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Treating the Itch

Treating 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.

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