Why is my pet itchy?

By January 19, 2017Uncategorized

You would think that given the skin is easy to see, diagnosing a dermatology (skin) issue would be an easy task.  However, determining a diagnosis can pose a problem as many skin conditions present the same way.  The veterinarians in Markham will need to get a thorough history from anyone involved in your pet’s care, carefully examine your pet and potentially collect appropriate samples for evaluation.

In veterinary dermatology, history is often more valuable than the examination, so being prepared to answer these important questions can be a great aid to the veterinarians in Markham in the first part of a skin exam.  Questions like “How severe is the condition?”, “Is it a continual problem? or something that appears intermittently with rest periods in between?”  A pet bitten by fleas for examples may have occasional, intermittent itchy episodes whereas something like sarcoptic mange is extremely itchy, uncomfortable enough to keep you and your pet up at night.  Noting how old your pet was and/or what time of year these skin issues started helps to rule out or rule in additional things to consider such as parasitic hypersensitivity or environmental allergies.  Answers to questions like “Where does your pet spend most of his time?” (Inside/outside), “Are they exposed to wildlife?”, “What sort of food does your pet eat?” (including treats) may indicate some sort of food intolerance or environmental hypersensitivity that could be causing their issues.  Another very good assessment tool is noting the area’s most affected.  Atopic dermatitis (airborne allergies) compared to parasitic hypersensitivity or reactions to flea bites for example will tend to have pretty specific irritation patterns.  Watching to see where your pet is scratching, licking or chewing or the skin looks irritated and relaying that to your veterinarian in Markham is a very helpful clue.  Lastly, it is important to note if anyone else, be it a family member or in-contact pet, is affected in any way since the skin condition was first noticed.  The spores of dermatophyte fungi (ringworm) are extremely hardy and can live for years and it only takes contact with the skin to cause infection.  So if there are multiple infections happening this helps rule out certain types of issues.

During the next part of the diagnostic process the veterinarians in Markham will do a full physical exam from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail that proceeds to a more specific examination of the areas affected.  At a minimum the veterinarians in Markham will comb for fleas and do a close examination of any external parasites found.  We may also collect fallen debris after coat brushing for examination with clear acetate tape for parasites.  From here additional tests like skin scraping, skin cytology and fungal cultures can be used to help with diagnosis as well.  Often a bacterial culture is used to help determine which antibiotic is going to work best in a condition that is so overwhelming it is affecting the ability of medications to work properly.

As with people we can do environmental allergy testing, although a positive test does not necessarily mean that allergies are the cause of the itching it does offer a clue.  The veterinarians in Markham may also recommend a hypoallergenic/elimination diet to rule out adverse food reactions.  Lastly, where most things have already been ruled out your pet may need a skin biopsy done to help determine the cause of her skin issues.

Once the veterinarians in Markham have a diagnosis, treatment options can range from a change in diet to medication to medicated baths to surgery.   Pay close attention should you ever have to bring your furry family member in for a skin issue, as you can see your description of what is going in is an invaluable part of the diagnostic process.

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Sincerely,

Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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