BY DR NICKY THOMAS, WYNNUM MANLY VETERINARY HOSPITAL
The medical term for itching in dogs and cats is pruritus. There are a number of common causes of pruritus in our pets.
Flea allergy dermatitis
Flea bites themselves are very irritating, but in sensitive pets, an allergic reaction to flea saliva may develop. Flea allergy dermatitis can be seen over the entire body but will often be more pronounced on the lower back, base of the tail and thighs. Animals often develop scabs, and fur loss over the site and live fleas or flea dirt may be seen.
This is the equivalent of human hay fever-type allergies and is very common in Spring and Summer. Animals will lick, chew and scratch all over, especially the feet, face, armpits and groin. They may develop red-brown saliva stains at affected sites.
Food allergies tend not to have a seasonal pattern – pets will be itchy year-round. Itching associated with food allergies may be all over the body but may also concentrate on the feet, ears, muzzle, chin and groin region. Some animals with food allergies will develop gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhoea and colitis.
Contact allergies generally affect areas of the body that are less furry and the underneath aspects of the body which come in contact with the ground. Lesions are usually seen on the chin, neck, chest, abdomen, groin, anal area, scrotum, tail and between the toes.
If your pet is showing signs of itching, book an appointment with your vet to help try and determine the cause of the itch and formulate a treatment plan.