Itchy Pet Awareness Month
August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month! In the 1980s during my first decade in practice, the itchy pet was likely to have fleas. We had powders, sprays, shampoos, bombs, and collars. All of which worked equally poorly. I still see a few clients who try to get out of a flea problem using these old 20th Century products. Frustration is the word that comes to mind when I think of fleas back in those days.
Fortunately, in the mid-1990s the topical products like Frontline and Advantage came out and were much more effective against fleas. Dogs were happier having to scratch less and owners were happier, too. This past decade saw the advent of oral medications to control and prevent flea and tick infestations and the external parasites seem to have met their match.
But a peculiar thing happened on the way to a parasite-free existence. A few dogs began to scratch. And then a few more dogs. Soon many pet owners were wondering if there was a resistance developing to the flea and tick medications. However, this was quickly disproven. The 21st Century parasite preventives are very safe and effective for your pets.
Whereas the #1 allergy in pets in the 20th Century was a flea allergy, in this Century the most common allergy is caused by the environment. Tree and grass pollens, molds, house dust mites, etc are the main offenders in the itchy pet. And it has become epidemic-like. We see multiple itchy pets each week. These pets are scratching and keeping their owners up at night. They are excoriating their skin with aggressive scratching, sometimes to the point of bleeding. They are licking their paws excessively and turning around to lick and bite at their sides. The pet owner is desperate for help in many cases. Excessive itchiness became the #1 reason owners took their dog to the vet from 2012 to 2019.
Fortunately, there has recently been much research done in this area of dermatology. New products have been FDA approved as safe and effective to calm down the inflammed skin of an itchy pet. Some are in the form of tablets, some injections and improved shampoos are now on the market. The science behind these products is outstanding and pets and their owners are reaping the benefits. After trying multiple home remedies for their scratching and licking pet, owners are going to their vet and finding peace and tranquility in the anti-itch products now available.
The skin is a complicated organ and a thorough work up and follow up plan for your pet at the vet's office is recommended. Many options are now available for owners to make life better for their itchy pet. During Itchy Pet Awareness Month talk to your vet about what may be the right choice for your best friend. Together we can "Ditch the Itch".
Submitted by Harley Robinson, DVM