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Itchy Pets


Itching, or pruritus, is one of the most common problems we see. It can be very frustrating to deal with and unfortunately, animals don’t always know when to stop licking or scratching, causing a lot of damage in a cycle of self-trauma. So what can be done to help?


In the majority of cases, parasites such as fleas are implicated in the itching. As a first step, you should always give your pet an effective parasite treatment. Remember that fleas develop resistance to these drugs over time and many commonly available products are less effective as a result. Regular treatment is needed to keep fleas at bay. Consider using a product that also protects against mites - these are often involved in skin disease, especially in dogs.

Other Causes

A variety of other conditions may cause itching. The most common ones are:

  • Infections with bacteria, yeasts or fungi
  • Systemic diseases such as hormonal imbalance or liver disease
  • Immune-mediated problems
  • Neoplasia
  • Allergies and hypersensitivities to airborne particles, food or by direct contact

To investigate the cause of the itching, the vet will normally conduct a full clinical examination and may well examine samples of skin or hair for signs of parasites and infectious agents. Blood tests may be needed to check for underlying problems and to screen for allergens. Where allergens are suspected, further investigation may be needed to determine the cause. This may involve diet trials using a special hypoallergenic diet, blood tests, or intradermal skin tests with a specialist veterinary dermatologist. Sometimes the underlying cause of the itching cannot be determined, even after carrying out a full investigation. In these cases, symptomatic treatment to control the itching may be needed.

How To Help

Research has shown that antihistamines and supplements of essential fatty acids (EFA) can be very helpful in controlling itching, either on their own or by reducing the amount of other, more potent drugs required. EFAs are a natural product, although they should be used carefully in animals that suffer from liver disease or pancreatitis. Antihistamines are generally well tolerated by animals although sometimes, as in humans, drowsiness may be observed. These products are more effective when used early in the course of the disease and are especially useful in animals suffering with allergic skin disease. We stock the Yumega range which contains an effective blend of EFAs at a competitive price.