Fall is an extremely itchy time of year for many of our pets. This is the time of year when the flea population is highest. It is also a time when our weed and leaf mold allergies are in high gear.
Most skin diseases look similar. If your pet is itching excessively any time of year, you need to schedule an exam so that the quickest diagnosis can be made. Once the diagnosis is made, the proper treatment can be prescribed.
The first relief of itching starts in the spring with a good quality flea prevention. We recommend Revolution for all cats and Revolution or Frontline Plus for all dogs. The latest either of these products should start is May 1st, but if you already have fleas on your pet, you need to start them immediately. You need to use these products on ALL pets in your environment.
If your pet is moderately itchy (3-5 out of 10), schedule an exam we can evaluate your pet and prescribe one of several antibacterial shampoos and Claritin (no Decongestant). Shampooing your pet 1-2 times weekly during their itchy season will be helpful. Use a non-drying shampoo. The Claritin dosage depends on your pets weight.
If your pet is itching around a 6 out of 10 or higher, then they should be evaluated by a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. They may recommend antibiotics and fish oil supplements. Atopica is a product often recommended to help control itching that doesn't have the side effects of steroids. Many of these products work best when started prior to your pets itching season. As a last resort some times steroids are utilized for short periods of time. We feel the long acting injectable steroids are not safe to use in dogs.
For pets that have an allergy that lasts longer than 6-8 weeks, we can do allergy testing. Once we know what the pet is allergic to, we can use immunotherapy to help control their itch. We sometimes also need to investigate food or dietary allergies.
Remember, an itchy pet needs a thorough exam of their skin and ear canals. We also need to compile a complete history to help us pinpoint the source of the itching. Once we have all the information, a properly administered treatment plan is the quickest way to get your pet relief.