So your dog has an itch?

We are certainly in the season for skin conditions to either flare up on our pets or show themselves for the first time. This is not a time to feel helpless, yet an indication to skip straight into your vet for an examination. Here are some tips when heading to the vet regarding a skin condition.

As we know ourselves, some skin conditions can be so incredibly itchy that we are lead to desperate measures to find relief, well same goes for our pets. In general, skin conditions in pets can be very difficult to accurately diagnose and somewhat frustrating for owners and pets alike. From the vet’s point of view, there are many factors that need to be considered.

An accurate and thorough history is everything when working up skin cases. A full description of where your pet itches and scratches and any associated lumps/bumps/redness or hair loss is essential. Have you noticed any other changes in your pet, i.e. behaviour, personality, appetite, weight loss or gain?

A recent travel history is pertinent. Did you visit a farm on the weekend, or take a different walking route through bushland? Has your pets home environment changed recently i.e. have you moved house? Has another pet visited that does not normally come into contact with your pet?

Your vet will ask many questions relating to diet as some skin irritations can simply be a visual manifestation of a dietary related indiscretion. Knowing the exact brand of food your dog eats, plus any treats, is helpful. Specific information regarding the brand of flea and worm prevention used and when it was last given is beneficial. Also, any recent medications given or has your dog been to the groomers?

As mentioned previously, spring time sees a spike in skin conditions, but not all are seasonal. Please consult your vet if you notice any unusual itching behaviour as these conditions are better when treated early.

By Dr Caitlin Thomson