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Pet Education

Nix the Skin Itch of Summer

Does summer present an itchy situation for your pet? Do they have a skin rash? Dig their ears? Chew their feet? Rub their face against the furniture or floor? Lick or groom incessantly? The culprit can be as simple as flea bites or as complicated as pet allergies. While itchy skin disease can be present year-round, the skin itch can worsen dramatically during the warm humid months of summer.

With warm weather approaching, ask your veterinarian if any of the following could be a problem for your pet and allow you to best scratch their itch!

  • Fleas and other insects.

    Flea bites are the most common source of itchy skin disease in our pets. Pets that are outside regularly are exposed to fleas, ticks, flies, mosquitoes, spiders and other biting insects. Pets that live strictly indoors can get fleas too. Cats with fleas itch most severely near the head, whereas dogs itch most severely near their tails. Monthly topical flea medicine is recommended for your pet and many home flea treatment products exist. Flea control is imperative for your pet AND home to successfully get rid of fleas.

  • Mites.

    Mites drive pets crazy by causing itchy skin disease such as mange, scabies, walking dandruff, nasal and ear infestations. Mites are very contagious and are a common skin disease in animal shelters, boarding and grooming facilities. Mites most often affect young animals, but should be suspected if your pet has recently had contact with other pets. Treatment is fairly simple and usually involves use of a medication called ivermectin.

  • Atopy (inhaled allergies).

    Pets with atopy are often itchy all over and have hair loss on their bodies. Cats often develop a skin rash or scabs on their head and neck. The skin itch is usually seasonal and worse in the warm months. Skin testing is required to confirm a diagnosis and treatment options depend on specific allergies. Pets are commonly affected by atopy and food allergy simultaneously.

  • Food Allergies.

    Food allergies in dogs and cats can mimic the skin symptoms of atopy. Unlike pets with atopy, pets with food allergies frequently have gastrointestinal problems and the skin itch is not related to the warmer season. Treatment involves a strict hypoallergenic diet.

  • Skin fold disease.

    Brachycephalic breeds (pets with “pug-like” facial structures) have excess skin tissue folds around the eyes, mouth and other areas, which create warm, moist environments for infection. Cleaning the folds with baby or acne wipes help keep skin infections under control. If the skin fold problem is severe, there are surgical options you can discuss with your veterinarian.

  • Skin infections.

    Bacterial and yeast infection of the skin and ears is often a complication in pets with the aforementioned conditions. In addition to treating the primary skin disease, these skin infections must be treated in order to successfully rid your pet of their skin itch. Skin treatments may include topical, and sometimes oral, antibiotics and antifungal medications.

The Halo Purely For Pets excellent line of pet grooming supplies will help naturally soothe your pet's skin itch from any cause.. The Healing Salve is a skin treatment that contains natural oils and vitamins to help remedy skin rash and even painful hot spots. Ear infection can be caused by pet allergies. Try our Herbal Ear Wash to keep your pet's ear wax and odor under control and help prevent ear infection from occurring.

Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM,is a renowned, board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist who has practiced at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and other leading institutions. She is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donna has written and lectured extensively on topics including nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney failure and respiratory disease. She is widely recognized for her role as consulting veterinarian to HALO, Purely for Pets, her TV appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and her widely-quoted pet health advice in print and on radio. Dr. Donna performs medical, nutrition and weight loss consultations for dogs and cats through her web-based veterinary consulting service, www.SpectorDVM.com.

References:

Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, 5th Edition, Danny Scott, William Miller Jr., Craig Griffin, W.B. Saunders Company, 1995.

  • Chapter 6: Parasitic Skin Diseases
  • Chapter 8: Immunologic Skin Diseases
  • Chapter 15: Environmental Skin Diseases
 
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