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Dr. Kerry Wink

Itching, Scratching, & Driving you INSANE!

Vet 4-1-1

Published July 20, 2012 @ 6 a.m.

“Dr. Wink, she won’t stop licking and chewing on her feet!  When I let her in from being outside, she goes crazy running thru the house rubbing her ears on the carpet.” My client looks at me with desperation and says “Something is definitely wrong! Should we be concerned about a mental problem, or even consider putting her down?”  I smile and listen to my second client of the day complain about essentially the same issue as my previous appointment an hour earlier.  After asking a few questions, imagine my client’s surprise when I reply “I don’t think we need to admit “Fifi” into a mental institute.  I believe your dog is suffering from allergies.”

What do you think of when I say the word “allergies”?  Do you picture continuous sneezing, swollen runny nose, or maybe itchy watery eyes?  Let’s stop here….I bet you are picturing a HUMAN with allergies, right?  Did you know our pets can endure many of the same allergies we do?  Pets can suffer allergies either seasonal or all year long.  Like most humans, the symptoms can be mild to very severe. 

The most common allergy diagnosed in pets is Atopy.  Atopy is comparable to hay fever in humans.  Their mechanisms of actions are similar, but the way a pet vs. human’s body handles these are very different. 

When “Fifi” goes outside to use the restroom or to play she picks up allergies in her hair.  Over the next few days, sometimes weeks, the allergens can slowly cross through the skin causing irritation & itching which can drive both dog and owner insane.  Ever suffer from your pet’s suffering?  Has your pet kept you up all night long with constant scratching?  Here’s where the difference between us and animals plays an important role.  When we get a case of allergies what’s the first thing we do?  We take medication to ease our symptoms, right?  But animals can’t tell you how they feel.  They can’t walk up to you one evening and ask “Hey you….I’m itching all over and was wondering if you could give me some medicine?”  Like I’ve said before, I’d be out of business if this ever was to happen!   

Atopy can cause a wide variety of clinical signs in dogs.  Symptoms can vary from lightly licking or chewing at their feet, to more extreme cases of scratching so often and so hard it causes sores on the body.  These sores can lead to severe secondary bacterial skin infections.  Ear infections are another common symptom of allergies.  Regardless of the severity, most of the time it is easy to treat the clinical signs up front.  Then establish a regimen to help ward off future allergy problems.  We can manage most allergy cases pretty successfully with just a few changes, such as allergies shots and baths. 

It’s funny how some clients come in expecting the worse, then shocked to learn the problem is a fairly simple fix.  In my next article I will be discussing another form of pet allergies…flea allergy. 

If you think your pet is suffering from allergies, or they are driving you insane with constant itching, chewing, or scratching, give us a call at Garza County Animal Hospital.

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