#ASKAVET Roundup: The Itchy Disease That You’ve Never Heard Of

One of the most common conditions seen by veterinarians — itchy dogs — is caused by a condition that most non-medical people have never heard of. What is this mystery disease?

It’s called atopy, and it’s the medical term for allergies.

Everybody knows about it, but nobody’s ever heard the name; even my spell checker hasn’t heard of it! In people, it goes by the common name of hay fever. Atopy (or atopic dermatitis) is an allergy to inhaled stuff, usually pollen. While people love to blame food for their dog’s itchiness, (and yes, food can play a role and food allergies do exist) allergies to pollen are far more common.

Itchy ears and chronic ear infections, chewing at the paws or skin, developing “hot spots” and hair loss are all signs of atopy.

Here’s what we do to treat atopy:

  • See your veterinarian to determine the diagnosis and if anything is contributing to it (like a food allergy, fleas, skin infection, etc.)
  • If fleas are present, or you want to prevent a flea infestation on your pet or in your home or yard, use a monthly topical flea preventive like Sentry Fiproguard Max
  • For severe itching, medications may be needed such as steroids, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, or even diet changes
  • Severe hot spots may need medical attention to stop the itch and treat any infection present
  • Mild hot spots can be treated with Sentry Hot Spot Skin Remedy for dogs
  • Severe cases will definitely benefit from seeing a veterinary dermatologist — testing and advanced therapies are available to stop the itch! Here’s more information:
  1. Veterinary Partner
  2. When Pollen is to Blame

Allergies to pollen and dust are a huge cause of itchy pets, but not the only reason that dogs and cats scratch. Food allergies and parasites like fleas (check out my World War Flea post!) round out the top three culprits of itchy pets. Things can bloom in fall that drive your pets wild with itching, so don’t think spring is the only time for doggy hay fever!

Editor’s note: Look for #ASKAVET Roundup blog posts following our monthly #ASKAVET Facebook events! Each blog post will address one frequently asked question posed during the live session from our fans — you! 

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