Scratching, itchy dogs (and cats) are probably the number one issue we see here at Woodlake Animal Hospital. Living in Richmond can be tough on all creatures who have allergies, and our pets are no exception….and yes, dogs and cats are allergic to the same things we are!
So when you see you pet itching, don’t automatically assume it is fleas (or that your flea preventative isn’t working). Sometimes it is, but more often, that itchy, red, inflammed skin is a product of what they are eating combined with the heat and humidity that permeates our environment most months out of the year. Do you bathe your dog? The old wives tale that “bathing your dog dries out their skin” is just that, an old wives tale. When your pet is allergic to the pollen, grass, air, mold, mildew, humidity in the air…a bath is the best thing for them! Even though the bathing only is a temporary fix, it does offer relief and comfort for a few days. Keep shampoos as simple as possible- many shampoos have additives and chemicals that are not necessary for pet hair- just like you and I benefit from better quality shampoos, so do our pets. Also, our hair is different from theirs, so try not to use any human shampoos on your pets (except gentle, baby shampoos are ok in a pinch, but not all the time!)
Does your pet chew his feet? Scratch his ears (or are you coming in regularly for ear cleanings?) or does he “scoot” (drag his tush across the floor?) Any combination of these three symptoms (or all three at once!) are a strong indication that your pet is eating something that is causing inflammation and making them uncomfortable. When dogs eat foods they are allergic to, their feet tingle, which is why he is chewing his feet (or “cleaning” or “nibbling”). The ears are naturally self-cleaning, so if your dog has chronic ear issues, let’s look at what he is eating. And scooting is something we see more often in the smaller breeds, but inflammation in “that” area also is indicative of eating something they shouldn’t be.
Don’t discount food allergies, just because your pet is “on a good, natural food”. Often the higher quality foods can be culprits, also, if the protein or carbohydrate source is not one that agrees with your individual pet. Come talk to us, and we can get you pointed in a direction that will increase your pet’s (and your!) comfort levels.
Remember to keep your pets inside with you during these “dog days” of summer…it’s hot out there for us, imagine what it feels like with a fur coat on! Allow plenty of access to shade and fresh water and frequent bathing with appropriate shampoos to help make their summer as comfortable as possible.