Most people are familiar with the discomfort of the occasional skin irritant-- whether an insect bite, contact dermatitis from a strange detergent, or an allergy from ingesting the wrong thing-- but some may not realize that humans aren’t the only animal to suffer from allergies.
Dogs, cats and other furry pets don’t just scratch as a matter of course. Although shedding season is itchy, it doesn’t continue all year round. If your pet is itchy all the time, there could be something more serious happening under the surface that requires medical care.
● Allergies (Atopic Dermatitis): Just like in humans, pets experience an allergic reaction when their immune system views a substance (like pollen, chemicals or insect saliva) as a threat and increases the production of histamines in the body’s systems. Dogs shows itching either by chewing or licking their skin or scratching. Commonly affected are the cheeks, belly, feet, the armpit region and ears. These allergies can develop over months or years as an animal becomes sensitized to something it comes in contact with often, like foods, pollens, molds, or dyes.
● Parasites: Any pet that goes outdoors has a greater chance of picking up unwanted external and internal parasites than those who are indoor-only, but even indoor pets can become hosts to parasites tracked in by humans and items that enter the home. It only takes one flea to start a population that can infest an entire house. The disease known as Sarcoptic Mange is caused by tiny mites that burrow through a dog’s skin and cause pain and itching.
● Irritant Contact Dermatitis: Unlike atopic dermatitis, this type of allergy happens suddenly when a pet comes into contact with a substance that sets of an immediate skin reaction. This could be caused by touching road salt, poison ivy, detergents, acids or other chemicals. Generally the skin reaction will appear in places that have less fur cover, like the foot pads, belly, and nose. Ulcers, blisters or red bumps are telltale signs of a skin reaction. Treatment includes preventing the pet from being exposed to the dangerous substance again.
● Hormonal Imbalances: In dogs and ferrets, among other pets, hormonal imbalances caused by organ disease can cause itchy, dry skin or hair loss. Sudden hair loss, weight loss, change in skin texture or sleep patterns should always be investigated by a vet as soon as possible.
● Psychological Issues: Compulsive licking and chewing of the body can be seen in pets who are under extreme stress. The source of the stress could be fear of abandonment or attachment issues, insufficient play and exercise, anxiety, or a history of abuse Great care must be taken to understand the source of the stress and begin the gentle process of re-socialization.
As soon as you notice something is wrong with your pet’s skin or behavior, take them to a vet. The vet should examine the damaged skin and determine whether it’s caused by internal or external issues. Various oral medications like antihistamines, topical steroids, and medicinal baths can bring great relief to pets.
Another treatment getting great attention of late is the use of Cannibidiol (CBD), made from hemp and containing no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance responsible for the “high”), for the treatment of allergies in pets. It reduces allergic reactions through the entire body, calms anxiety and reduces obsessive behaviors like chewing and licking. As an anti-inflammatory, CBD can relieve systemic inflammation that causes hives, blisters and whole-body itching. CBD has no known interactions with other medications, but it can cause the liver to process other drugs more slowly, so it’s important to inform the vet if you are administering CBD so they can correctly adjust your pet’s dose of any other drugs.
CBD has no side effects and is non-addictive and non-narcotic. Always consult your vet’s experience and start your pet with the lowest possible effective dose.
For more information on PurCBD; CBD for dogs and cats click here