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Help! My dog is itchy, Fortitude Valley Vet.

Skin Problems are probably one of the most likely reasons why your cuddly four-legged companion would need to see a vet. Diesel, my white staffy, isn't spared from this annoying issue. He's been showing signs of sensitivity since his 2nd year, and it's been something that requires active management.

How to stop my dog from scratching itself, Fortitude Valley Vet?

It is important to note that you cannot cure skin allergies. You have to manage them with appropriate medication and lifestyle changes.

Skin problems can range from mild itching to severe fur loss with inflamed/infected skin. However most skin problems are attributed to allergic reactions and bacteria infection is commonly secondary to this.

Here at Fortitude Valley Vet, the three common allergies seen in dogs are:

  • flea allergy dermatitis, 
  • food allergy  and
  • atopic dermatitis 

Note that your dog's skin problems may also be contact dermatitis or be insect hypersensitivity. 

Usually, if your dog has recurring skin problems that do not seem to go away, it is likely to be caused by one of the three allergies above (or even a combination of the three).

To have a good idea of which specific allergy your pet is most likely to be suffering from, consider the following 4 points:

  1. Age of onset – Atopic dermatitis tends to happen when your furry kid is about 6 months to 6 years of age. Food allergy can happen at any time whether a dog is young or old.
  2. Site of the Allergy - Flea allergy dermatitis tends to cause symptoms from “the pants down”. You will see problems in the lower half of the body including the base of the tail, tummy and groin. Atopic dermatitis and food allergy are similar in presentation except for one difference – food allergy can have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Both type of allergies are mostly confined in the upper body and include the face, ears, feet and armpit.
  3. Seasonality – Are the skin problems worse in spring and summer? Seasonal skin itchiness tends to be caused by flea allergy dermatitis or atopic dermatitis (genetic predisposition to developing a reaction to say, pollen - a common seasonal allergen). Grass and tree pollen in spring and weed pollen in summer and autumn can trigger skin problems in dogs.
  4. Response to corticosteroids – Flea allergy dermatitis and atopic dermatitis often respond well to steroidal medication but food allergies yield variable results.

I hope this gives you a fair idea what your doggy might be suffering from. Some dogs can have all of the above allergies or just one of them.

Stay tune for tomorrow's blog on treatment options for Itchy Skin.

If you have further questions, come see us at Fortitude Valley Vet, Emporium, Brisbane. 07 3216 0045