Don't make any Rash decisions - Common skin conditions, allergies and how they are treated
There is a medical term to describe extreme itching and scratching. This is known as "pruritus". Pruritus, redness, hair loss can be an issue for both pets and their humans. These signs are usually triggered by an exposure to an ‘allergen’ and severity can differ in each pet. This condition known as ‘allergic dermatitis’, ‘atopic dermatitis’ or ‘atopy’ and can be seen in our pets from as early as 6 months of age.
How can we help our pets?
If you have noticed any of the symptoms above, it is important to have a consultation with our vets in order to determine a cause. The vet may want to rule out other causes of itching such those caused by bacterial infection or parasites (fleas, mites or ringworm) A skin scrape test (taking sample of the skin cells by gently scraping at any infected area) or other tests may help investigate this cause. If parasites and infection are cleared from being the culprits, then either a food or environmental allergen is the next suspect.
Food vs environmental
Our vets may suggest trialling a recommended prescription diet in order to rule out a food allergy. Food trials are often suggested for 8 weeks minimum. Close monitoring is essential to ensure that your pet does not eat anything other than their allocated diet throughout the trial. If little or no change is seen in your pet after weeks of strict feeding, your pet may have an adverse reaction to something in the environment.
Environmental allergies may include things such as pollen, flea saliva and dust mites. Symptoms may be seasonal (depend on the time of year) and severity may depend on exposure time. As it isn't always possible to eliminate the allergen, treatment in this case, usually requires medication. These medications can help reduce the inflammatory response and help 'block' the itch response itself. Other measures can include bathing in medicated or oatmeal based pet shampoos and feeding diets or supplements that help support skin function.