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Itching and Scratching in Dogs and Cats

Many possible causes and treatments for these common problems


Itching, scratching, fleas, allergies and hair loss are among the most common questions to veterinarians. Hair loss and scratching are very common signs that represent a multitude of possible health or parasite problems. Often the scratching, chewing and licking lead to secondary problems.

Your veterinarian will need to do an examination and likely some testing to determine the root cause and begin treatment. Here are some resources about these common skin problems in dogs and cats.

1. Common Causes of Hair Loss and Scratching


Hair loss and scratching are common symptoms in dogs and cats. There are many diseases that can cause these symptoms and many of them will appear similar to one another. These are some of the most common causes.

2. What Is A "Hot Spot"?

Hot Spot on the neck an English Bulldog - Uwe Gille/Wikimedia
Uwe Gille/Wikimedia

Hot spots are a common skin problem, but that doesn't mean that they should be overlooked or ignored! Hot spots can happen at any time of the year, with the warmer months being more common.

Redness, oozing, pain, and itchiness are hallmark signs. Hair loss is commonly present.

3. Quick Tip For Itch Relief - Oatmeal Shampoo


Oatmeal has been used for years to help soothe skin and control itching, both for humans and for animals. This is a gentle, non-toxic shampoo to soothe itchy skin. Oatmeal shampoo does not kill fleas or ticks.

As with all medical problems, please see your veterinarian first to diagnose and treat the cause of itchy skin first.

4. All About Fleas

Electron micrograph image of a flea
Image © Center for Disease Control (CDC)
While effective for immediate control, flea bath or collar isn't going to eradicate fleas on your pet and in your home. Learn the flea life cycle to fine tune your efforts.

5. Common Causes of Allergies


Allergies occur when your pet is abnormally sensitive to something to which he is exposed. Pets can be allergic to many different things. There are three common types of allergies seen in dogs and cats.

6. Dermatitis Caused by Bacterial and Yeast Infections

Gail S/Flickr.com

Dermatitis is general term that refers to inflammation in the skin. In dogs and cats, dermatitis may be caused by yeast or bacterial infections in the skin.

When your dog or cat's skin becomes damaged, the environment on the surface of the skin changes. This change gives the normal yeast and bacteria living on the surface of the skin the opportunity to avoid the skin's normal defense systems and cause further damage to the skin.

7. Common Signs of Allergies


Allergies are a common problem in dogs and cats. They are among the most common diseases in pets and can cause a number of different types of signs.

By far, the most common signs seen in both dogs and cats with allergies are related to the skin. Learn more here.

8. Diagnosing Hair Loss and Scratching


Hair loss and/or scratching are the most common manifestations of both canine and feline skin disease.

Many different diseases can cause skin disease but the skin of the dog or cat can only react to disease in a limited number of ways. As a result, many of the diseases that cause skin problems in dogs and cats also cause similar symptoms and look identical to one another.

In order to be able to successfully diagnose and treat your dog or cat for scratching and hair loss, your veterinarian will likely need to perform some basic laboratory testing.

9. Flea Allergy Treatment


The most important part of treatment for allergies related to fleas is killing the fleas already on your pet and preventing others from infesting your dog or cat.

In some cases of flea allergy, your dog or cat may be so uncomfortable that additional symptomatic treatments are necessary to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with the allergy.

10. Food Allergy Treatment


Food allergy is one of the the potential causes of skin disease in dogs and cats. In cases where food allergy is suspected, your veterinarian will want to perform a food trial.

The food trial will help diagnose the food allergy. At the same time, it will also treat the allergy, if the trial is effective.

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