Hi all! Yeah, its been a while. For those of you who don't know, I became a mom to twin boys in November 2011 and have absolutely very little free time anymore. I'm not finding the right motivation to write fiction these days (and I'm at work right now).
So, what prompts a blog today? Well, I'm at work with no Doctors, no appointments, things I should be doing and I get this phone call about an itchy dog. So it went from somewhere in the middle of my list of blogs to write to the top and bingo, here it is.
I can sympathize with these dogs and their itchy skin. In high school I was unknowingly allergic to my shampoo which I'd used for the entire 4 years while taking prescription allergy medication and being covered in hives and scratching myself raw. Then I decided to change my shampoo because I'd ran out and had a sample of another brand that came in the mail. Next thing I knew I didn't need allergy pills anymore. I still have to be careful about what I buy for skin and hair care products and it makes me seriously nervous when they change their formula like they did a few years ago with my chosen antiperspirant brand. If I'd have known it was my shampoo I wouldn't have been so miserable for so long.
As any person can tell you, having allergies can be miserable whether its hay fever or hives. Having an itchy dog can make for many restless nights. There are many reasons your dog can be itchy. The first thing most people think about is fleas. There are other little insects called mange mites or ear mites that cause itchiness as well. Finally allergies cause dogs to be itchy rather than having hay fever symptoms like humans do.
To control fleas you'll need to get crazy with insecticides, well, not too crazy. You'll need to treat your yard, your home and your pet(s). You'll want to use products that have been around only a few years or less. The newer the product, the less resistance the fleas will have to it. Keep in mind, it will take several months before the fleas will be gone and eggs can lay dormant for months if the conditions are right. Some dogs can be allergic to flea saliva in a condition known as Flea Bite Dermatitis. These dogs can be severely itchy.
Generally there are two types of mange mites, sarcoptes aka scabies and demodex. Your veterinarian will have to do a skin scraping to find them since they are microscopic in size. Dogs that are severely itchy may scratch themselves raw and hairless. There are a variety of treatments available and antibiotics may also be prescribed for secondary bacterial infections.
Ear mites tend to stay in the ear canals only causing itchy ears and head shaking. Not all itchy ears are caused by ear mites. Mite medications are available over the counter but many don't instruct you to give the product often enough or long enough (new mites hatch out every 21 days. Your veterinarian can advise you of a more productive dose.
Finally, dogs can have allergies like humans do. Common allergens include pollen's, food, insects, dander, and house dust. Allergies can be seasonal or year round and there is no cure. Your veterinarian may recommend allergy testing to get to the cause of the problem. Testing is a more direct method than feeding trials for food allergies and can be more expensive up front than feeding trials.
Always call you veterinarian before giving your dog or cat any over the counter medications.