Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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Treating the ItchTreating the Itch

By Neil Stuttle BVSc

Allergic skin disease is one of the major causes of ongoing itching and skin irritation in dogs. Severe itching causes distress and sleepless nights for both dogs and owners alike!

Canine itch can be caused and exacerbated by many factors including infections, parasites or allergies. The four most common allergies are:

  • Flea allergy (even one flea can cause this)
  • Food allergy
  • Contact allergy (when your dog comes into direct contact with something which triggers the itch)
  • Atopic dermatitis (itchy skin disease associated with environmental allergens e.g. pollens, moulds or house-dust mites)

You will usually notice when your dog has a skin disease because of their change in behaviour or their smell! There are some important signs to look out for that may indicate your dog is itchy, these include:

  • An increase in licking, chewing, biting or scratching
  • An increase in rolling, rubbing or scooting their bottom
  • Foot chewing
  • Hair loss
  • Ear irritation, redness or smell
  • Changes in the appearance of the skin, e.g. sores or darkened colour
  • Redness of the skin
  • Body odour

The main treatment to manage allergic itch is steroids. However, despite them being very effective, some dogs struggle with their side effects. These side effects include weight gain, lethargy, incontinence and liver disease.

There is now another anti itch medication called Apoquel. Apoquel is just as effective as steriods but does not have the associated side effects. Apoquel is suitable for all itchy dogs with allergic skin disease, especially those that struggle with the side effects of steriods.

If your dog itches and scratches or is struggling with the side effects of steriods make an appointment to see one of our vets to determine if Apoquel can help.

Prescription Diets for Skin Disease

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: There are many skin conditions that we see on a regular basis, one of the most common being Canine Atopy which is essentially itchy skin caused by allergies. The severity of the disease is variable and can range from mild itching and redness to more severe skin and ear infections.

Case Study - The Bionic Dog and Cutting Edge Technology

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Zac presented to the clinic with left hind-limb lameness of a short duration. We took x-rays of his hock region (ankle), as a swelling was found in this area. This showed an osteosarcoma or bone tumour, these tumors generally hold a very poor prognosis and we often have to amputate the leg (non curative but can extend life expectancy).


Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Each week across our Napier, Waipukurau, Dannevirke and Masterton clinics our professional groomers are busy making dogs look pretty.

Reducing Feline Anxiety and the Dreaded Vet Visit

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Vet visits can be the stuff of nightmares for cats, and their owners! All too often we see cats that arrive at the clinic having cried for the entire car trip, possibly soiled their cage, and that are generally very stressed. They then get examined, maybe injected, and get back into the cage for the stressful return trip home.

Our Senior Pets

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: At around the age of eight our pets are classified as "seniors". From then on it is extremely beneficial to have a yearly blood and urine sample taken and have these tested to see how your pet's organs are functioning, and establish if there is anything we can do medically to help prolong a happy and healthy life and prevent or slow the onset of disease.

Barley Grass Season

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Barley Grass season is on its way and this pesky seed is a common problem for many dogs. Barley Grass seeds have a sharp barb at one end and are perfectly formed to penetrate skin and travel around the body. Spaniels and Beardies are at particular risk due to their hairy feet, but any dog can be affected.

Selecting Against Canine Hip Arthritis - Penn Hip

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Arthritis is one of the most common conditions we see in a variety of dog breeds and results in pain, loss of athletic ability, and worst case scenario euthanasia. Hip arthritis is common and can affect both young and old dogs. The primary cause of hip arthritis is excessive hip laxity otherwise known as hip dysplasia.

Vaccination of cats and dogs - Why it?s still important

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: For dogs, the use of effective vaccinations has meant that infectious diseases such as hepatitis and distemper, which previously used to kill large number of dogs, are now rarely seen. Unfortunately Parvo-virus is still often diagnosed and commonly causes death in younger puppies.

Dental Disease

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: In recent times dental disease in cats and dogs has become a major component of a Vet's daily case load. This may be because we now better recognise the discomfort this causes for our usually uncomplaining patients and potential for further disease to result from it if allowed to go un-treated.

Flea Treatment

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Now is a good time for treating fleas! With the cooler months almost upon us, now is a good time to remember that year round treatment is essential for good control of the flea population.

Pet Nutrition Q & A

Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: What should I feed my new puppy or kitten? What are the advantages of the premium diets? Should I feed my dog bones? How do I get my pet to lose weight?

Pregnancy Testing Results for Cattle 2010

Read more >Friday 11th of March 2016: Virtually all the cattle pregnancy testing at Vet Services is now done by ultrasound scanning, allowing more accurate diagnosis of age of pregnancy, identifying twin calves if required, as well as being much gentler for the cows than the century-old practice of manual testing.

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