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Itching can be bothersome for you and your pet. Let’s face it, when they are itching they are not sleeping and when they are not sleeping, you are not sleeping. The whole house is out of whack! Itching has many causes but generally can be broken down into three categories. Allergy, parasites or infections. So what can you do at home and when is it time to seek help?

What’s going on with your pet? Why do animals itch?

Just like people, dogs and cats can be allergic to pollen, dust and mold. Different from people, most dogs and cats will only show signs of their allergies in their skin. Allergic cats may develop crusts or lick their fur excessively causing bald spots. Allergic dogs may scratch all over, but especially at their armpits, belly, groin, paws and ears.

Mites and fleas are another source of itching. We know what you are thinking. Not my perfect pet! We don’t even go anywhere, and I don’t see any bugs! Unfortunately, you might not actually see these parasites, only the aftermath of a bite or infestation, and it’s really easy to pick them up.It’s creepy but true! Some mites cause more itching than others, but all are treatable.

Skin infections (also known as pyoderma) can also be really itchy and irritating.Infections with bacteria or yeast can cause redness crusting, flaky skin, hair loss, pimples or pustules, and bumps. Sometimes what starts as an allergy progresses to infection. 

How bad is it? Here are some signs to seek treatment sooner than later:

- Itching so bad that the skin breaks or bleeds

- Can’t rest because of itching

- Spreading of lesions or rashes especially over the period of minutes to hours


Here’s what you can do...

Soothing baths: This can be a good way to rid the skin of irritants and help stop the cycle of itching. Oatmeal based shampoos can be helpful.

- If your pet’s feet are itchy, make sure you wipe the bottoms of the feet when coming in from walking on the grass and/or use protective boots on walks. You can use a moist washcloth or unscented baby wipes.

Topicals: It is tempting to put something on the area to stop the itching. This is generally safe to do unless the skin is broken. There are many over the counter products that can be safely used for itch. It is important that you do not allow your pet to lick ANY topical product without talking to a veterinarian. A good rule of thumb for any topical product is to use it on a small area first and watch for any adverse reactions. And if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t keep applying it.

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Does your pet need Urgent Care?

If you answered yes to any of the how bad is it signs OR if it seems like an infection, yes! Once itchiness turns into infection or gets so bad they can’t stop scratching, it is time for a formal evaluation.

What can you expect from your visit?

Your Scout veterinarian may recommend:

Cytology: The team may take a sample of the skin with a scrape or cotton swab to look at under the microscope. This helps narrow down the potential causes and direct treatment.

Culture: Some skin infections are complicated, and the standard treatment may not work. In this case, your Scout veterinarian may recommend a bacterial culture to help tailor the treatment specifically to your pet.

Biopsy: While it’s not common, sometimes really stubborn skin issues are not diagnosed without a biopsy (sample of skin). 

Treatments: Your Scout veterinarian may recommend topical treatments, oral medications, or a combination of these to help control the itching and treat the underlying cause.

Follow up appointments: Provided that the treatment is working, a follow-up appointment may not be necessary. However, for complicated, stubborn or difficult cases, they may recommend additional evaluations. This is typically best accomplished with your primary care veterinarian, but Scout can help you out if you don’t have a vet at the moment.

Remember that you are the best advocate for your pet. If you think it’s a problem, it probably is! We are here for you in your time of need.

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2369 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60614


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Questions? Call us: 773-676-8166