Have you had situations where your pet is itchy all over the body instead of running around or taking long deserved naps? Itchiness is one of the most common problems afflicting pets and is normally a sign that you need to give more attention to your pet. This is a sign of an inflammatory condition on the skin that can be as a result of various ailments or parasites.
The most common cause of itchiness in pets, especially in cats and dogs can be caused by fleas, mites and ticks. Fleas can be spotted crawling or presence of “flea dirt” or Flea poo (dark sand like materials) on the skin is a sign of infestation. This presents as generalized itchy skin with papules spread across the body, especially at the base of the tail.
Mites would cause a disease called mange, are opportunistic infestation especially in puppies, kittens and the geriatrics. They are not visible to the naked eye will cause itchiness around the eyes, mouth and many times generalized infestation all over the body. Mange is one of the zoonotic diseases that can pass from your pet to pet owners or members of the family.
Ticks are relatively easy to spot where they mostly hide on the ears, behind the neck, between the paws and around the base of the tail. Ticks not only do they create discomfort from their bites, they are agent carriers of deadly diseases like tick fever (Babesiosis). This tick borne infection is a serious threat to dogs and can cause long standing disease or even be fatal if not treated. Tick fever is also a zoonotic disease when the same infected tick bites human.
Mosquito or fly bite will cause hypersensitivity commonly seen on the head, neck, ears and along the bridge of the nose. Mosquito bite induces immediate reactive (type1) hypersensitivity to both cats and dogs.
A bacterial infection on specific patches of the skin is another common cause of skin ailment that cause incessant itchiness on your pet. It also known as canine pyoderma, and is uncommon in cats. It presents as small hairless patch with pus or matted hair that appears to be wet having an awful smell. Canine pyoderma can spread rapidly within days, creating such uncomfortable condition to your pet.
Yeast or fungal infections are common cause of itchiness in dogs and cats. This is also one of the zoonotic skin infections that can be passed to pet owners. They affect all parts of the body especially on the ears, legs and flanks of the pets. Fungal infections present with generalized itchiness and emanating a foul yeast smelling odor. Yeast infections are secondary problem or opportunistic infections from an underling cause like stress like pregnancy, poor diet, and unclean environment, prolong use of antibiotics, hormonal or other diseases that suppress the immune system. Yeast infections are easily diagnosed when the pet is presented to the doctor for examination.
Another common cause of an itchy pet can be caused by allergy or Atopy or most commonly known as canine allergic dermatitis. This is mainly caused by food, inhalant or contact irritant, allergy to bacteria, yeast on the skin or flea allergy. Atopy can be due to hereditary nature of the disease especially in some breeds of dogs like Golden retrievers and German shepherds. Repeated exposure to otherwise harmless substances like grass, dust mites and mold will cause flare ups of itchiness and skin irritation.
Dogs can be allergic to an ingredient in their food; especially food that is not of good quality will create an allergic reaction that develops over a long period of time. Food allergies can be frustrating and difficult to identify because of their mundane nature of gradually causing irritation over time.
Your pet might pick bad habits from boredom by licking a particular area excessively creating an itchy patch on the skin. As a result, inflammation and infection will follow. This condition, also called lick granuloma, can also be associated with presence of foreign body, trauma, mites, allergies and bacterial or fungal infections.
Other causes of itchiness are endocrine or hormonal diseases like Hyperadrenocortism, Hypothyroidism and Estrogen responsive dermatosis. These are easily spotted when your pet is presented to a veterinarian for examination.
Itchiness is extremely uncomfortable to your pet and it is advisable you rush your pet to your vet for examination and treatment. This will ultimately improve on the well being of your pet, and by extension improves on your wellness.
Dr. Anderson Gitari. BVM. Mvet Surgery.
The Andys Veterinary Hospital.
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