Can Itchiness be Seasonal?
Scratching. Every dog does it. But, did you know that it can be seasonal, meaning your dog may be more affected in the warmer months? That’s right. Your dog may have allergies.
By delving into our data from one month to the next, we have noticed an increase in itching and scratching when it starts to get warm. AKA right now.
Pet Insight Project sat down with Dr. Aletha Carson, DVM, to discuss seasonal scratching: what to look for, how to treat it, and how Whistle devices are helping speed up the detection of these allergies.
Pet Insight: First thing's first, itchiness can be seasonal?
Aletha Carson: Itching can definitely be seasonal. And part of that is because there can be different amounts of allergens in the air. You’ve got pollen, you’ve got mold. Depending on where you live in the country, the seasonality can vary significantly because you have different things coming at different times. Pets can also be allergic to things like fleas. Fleas like to come out when it’s warm. Other bugs can bite and cause our pets to be scratchy. Mosquitos (as a side note, carry heartworm and are particularly nasty little buggers) can cause our pets to be pretty itchy as well. So, there are a lot of things that can make our pets itchy.
PI: What would you recommend as treatment for seasonal scratchiness
AC:There are so many different treatments out there and it really depends on the cause. There are some fundamentals and starting with a good flea medication is foundational. There are so many different kinds out there, so ask your vet which one they would recommend specifically for your pet. If allergies like pollen and grass are suspected, bathing your dog with a gentle allergen shampoo after they have been playing outside can help remove the allergens from their skin. But you must be careful when you pick the shampoo because, if you use a topical flea medication, many shampoos can wash that off and then you can have your dog be overrun with fleas. So, it’s a little bit of a balancing act.
AC: There are so many treatments. The best thing is to work with your veterinarian to figure out what is ideal for your pet, so they can help you avoid a situation like I just mentioned, where one helpful thing (washing your pet) could lead to other problems (fleas).
AC: There are also allergy shots, just like there are for people. And those can be helpful. You could have a pet that’s having bad allergies year after year, and allergy shots can knock them down to a level that might be manageable. And then we have tons of really great allergy medications that are out on the market. When I first started practicing, we didn’t have as many options. We had antihistamines, which don’t traditionally work well in dogs, though some pets respond to them better than others. We had some steroids, which work really well for itching, but have a lot of potential side effects. It can change a pet’s behavior, they can be a little moody, or it can make them anxious. New medications, like Cytopoint and Apoquel, have been game changers for itchy dogs. There are even special diets that can help strengthen the skin of a dog from the inside out. One of my favorites is Royal Canin Skin Support.
AC: Having had to take prednisone myself, I really empathize with my patients if they’re on it. And if a dog has to take prednisone, they get really hungry and thirsty and have to drink and pee a lot, and that can be really challenging. So, we have to think about the effects that these medications have on the client as well as the dog as we start to put together this holistic treatment plan.