Itching and scratching is one of the top ten reasons dogs and cats visit the veterinarian. The most common causes of itching include allergies, parasites, and skin infections. It is important to investigate itchy skin and frequent scratching right away. Allowing the problem to persist can lead to worse problems down the road including hot spots, staph and other skin infections.
The first step in determining the cause of the itch is to look for fleas – or rather look for signs of fleas since you often won’t see the critters themselves unless there are many of them on the animal. Fleas are great at hiding in long fur. To test for fleas use a fine-tooth flea comb on the area between your animal’s hips – just above the tail. On long haired animals you many need to use a brush first to smooth the fur so you can get the comb through easily. Comb for 5 to 10 strokes to remove a bit of loose hair, then press the hair and any dirt between two damp white paper towels. If you see any rust colored or red spots appear, that is a sign of fleas. If your animal has fleas, the faster you act the easier it will be to deal with. See our article about A Natural Approach to Flea Control for more information. Check out Only Natural Pet’s Flea Control Kits for solutions.
If you have ruled out fleas, and there are no signs of a skin infection such as patches of missing fur or raised red areas, then consider allergies as a possibility. Dogs and cats can have food, airborne, and contact allergies. Getting allergies under control does not need to be complicated – often switching to a high quality allergy formula food and adding digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids to the diet will do the trick. For more information about treating allergies see Alleviating Your Pet’s Itchy Skin in our newletter archives. Only Natural Pet’s Allergy Kits can help simplify treatment.