Thursday, May 27, 2010

Question: Pet is scratching a lot?

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat seems to be scratching a lot lately. I thought it could be fleas but I’m not seeing any signs. What else could it be?



Hi Kurt,

It is usually around this time of year that we see a lot of itchy pets come into the veterinary hospital. Most pet owners usually assume it must do with external parasites but an itchy pet can actually be a symptom of other skin issues.

The term we use for itching and scratching is pruritus. Pruritus is a common sign of many skin disorders and is one of the most common reasons dog and cat owners seek veterinary care. There are many causes of pruritus. Flea allergy dermatitis, seasonal allergies or atopy, food allergies, contact dermatitis and sarcoptic mange are some of the most common causes of scratching in dogs and cats. To complicate our diagnosis, even pets with a mild scratching can develop both bacterial and yeast skin
infections which can cause even more scratching.

Skin diseases can be challenging and frustrating both for owners and veterinarians. In order to diagnose the specific causes of itching in your pet, several tests and treatments may be necessary. In some cases this process may take weeks to months and some pets may require even lifelong treatment for their condition.

Over the next month I am going to discuss the causes of pruritus.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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