Does your pet scratch a lot, do they get hot spots, learn what can be going on.
Does your pet scratch itself? Does the scratching get worse at certain times of the year? Does it intensify after being outside, going swimming, being in certain areas, and/or after you clean? Being aware of circumstances that might be contributing to the itching can make a huge difference in preventing it from recurring.
You would be surprised at some of the things pets can be allergic to. If your pet is allergic to grass and they have been rolling or walking in the grass or weeds, give them a rinse with cool water before they go indoors. Pets can also be allergic to laundry detergent. If their underbelly is always red and raw it could be from the laundry detergent you are using. Switching to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent can help. Air fresheners (sprays, plug-ins, incense, essential oils) and fabric refreshers can trigger allergic reactions in some pets. Eliminating these items from your home may alleviate the allergy symptoms. Use the process of elimination to narrow down the cause of allergic reactions by monitoring your pet and making one change at a time and watching for improvement or worsening signs for a least a week (without medication). Once you give any type of medication it is hard to know what is helping the medication or the elimination. If your pet is scratching all the time and causing hot spots you should use medication that your veterinarian recommends.
If your pet has sensitive skin due to allergies, bathing them with a hypoallergenic animal shampoo can be helpful. If over-the-counter shampoos are not working, your vet can prescribe shampoos for specific skin issues that have medications in them too. Here are some links to some over-the-counter hypoallergenic pet shampoos if your pet is just starting to scratch. (https://amzn.to/3KvJamQ) (https://amzn.to/3Lwb1o9) (https://amzn.to/3OKSbfh)
If your pet has seasonal allergies it’s very important to make sure they don’t have pollen or the allergen on their fur. If they go outside for more than a few minutes or go anywhere they would physically come into contact with pollen, rinse them off with cool water prior to going inside to remove as much of it as possible. This can help to prevent skin irritation. These pets should be washed more often than normal to prevent skin irritation as well during their allergy season. Dogs should normally not be bathed more than about once a month to keep the natural oils on their skin which helps to prevent dry skin. Bathing them too often can also lead to the breakdown of the normal protective enzymes on the skin which the skin needs to function normally. Skin is the first defense against harmful outside invaders including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Keeping this in mind, you should bathe your dog more often when its skin is irritated until it gets better, and then do it once a month.
If your dog goes swimming they should be rinsed off after each swimming activity with just water. Whether they have been in the chlorine pool or natural water, rinse off anything that could cause skin irritation. Also, make sure their ears are cleaned with a drying ear cleaner after each swimming activity to prevent water from staying in the ear canal which can cause ear infections.
If your pet has chronic ear infections, year-round or seasonal, most veterinarians recommend cleaning about once a week to prevent them. Make sure not to use a product with ear mite medication as this can cause a lot of irritation to the ears if there are no mites and most of the time dogs do not get ear mites – see your vet if you do think your pet has an ear infection or ear mites. If your pet gets seasonal ear infections make sure to start the weekly cleanings before they normally start to hopefully prevent an infection. Ear infection and/or foxtail symptoms can include excessive scratching at the ears, excessive ear discharge, and/or a change in the smell of the ears. Try this ear cleaner. Make sure if you live in an area that has foxtails and you know your pet has been where there are foxtails, do not clean the ears and see your vet asap. If you clean the ears with a foxtail in the ear you can cause damage to the ear and/or ear drum which is very painful, can cause hearing loss, and takes time to heal. You also want to make sure the eardrum is in tack prior to cleaning the ears if the infection is bad for the same reasons.
Does your pet have skin issues year-round? Have you changed your pet’s food? This is something to consider if your pet is scratching all the time year-round. The lining of the intestines is the same tissue as the skin therefore if there is a problem with the intestines it can show up as a problem on the skin. Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet and type of food to feed your pet.
Make sure to talk to and see your veterinarian if you think your pet has allergies to make sure you are doing the right thing, to get treatments for your pet, and see if they have anything else that will help with signs of allergies. There are injections, oral (by mouth) mediations, shampoos, and ointments that can be helpful depending on what type of allergies your pet has, how often they have allergy problems, what has been done in the past, and what type of new treatments your veterinarian can recommend for you and your pet.
If you bring your pet in for scratching issues they will be checked for fleas. This is the number one skin irritation seen so make sure your pet is on a flea preventative year-round to prevent any skin irritation. See my blog on Fleas for more information on fleas, what happens if your pet has fleas, how to get rid of fleas, and how to prevent them. Make sure you know what type of flea preventative you use, when it was last applied, and when you gave the last bath to your pet. These will help the vet team know if you need a different type of preventative or if your pet should be started on a flea preventative since some flea preventatives don’t work as well as others in certain areas and there are different products that might work better than what you are currently using.