New Advancements in the Research of Dog Itchiness
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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Itchy dogs are incredibly common. Unfortunately, itching can impact every member of the household, since some causes of itching are contagious, or the sound of itching can be bothersome to family members. But it is always most irksome to the pruritic (itchy) patient. Itchiness is not a comfortable feeling!
Because itchiness is a common cause for discomfort, veterinarians and veterinary dermatologists are always looking for ways to help these pets. Itchiness is a common source of research, and luckily we are constantly learning more. Here are a few recent advancements:
Newer flea and tick preventions: Skin parasites, such as fleas and ticks, are a very common cause for itching. While flea and tick control are readily available, companies are looking for newer methods to treat or prevent infestations. Oral medications are becoming increasingly common. One advantage is that with oral medications nothing has to go on the skin, which may be getting bathed often. Another advantage is the tastiness of the preventative. These medications taste like treats; dogs may view oral medications as a reward, whereas topical medications do not provide such a reward.
Newer anti-allergy medications: It is common to have a variety of different causes of itching. For instance, a dog may have a primary food allergy, but develop secondary infections with bacteria and/or yeast. In these cases, all components of the itching need to be treated. By treating the allergy and the secondary infections, you help to remove all the causes of itchiness. Over the last few years anti-allergy medications have become more readily available. These medications can help to alter how the body responds to allergens (such as food proteins, pollens, and dander). As veterinary dermatologists and veterinarians have begun to use these medications, often long-term, we are finding an increase in the level of comfort for our patients.
- Newer anti-itching medications: Some breakthrough research and technology has been helping itchy patients. This technology has demonstrated new findings in the itch-centers of the brain, where the brain interprets an itchy response. In some cases, the brain OVER interprets that response, resulting in a dog that may scratch or chew until she bleeds. This level of severity can lead to complications (such as secondary infection). By using newer drugs to help control itching, the patient and the family can all become more comfortable.
Springtime itching is not uncommon. As plants and grasses bloom and regrown, they shed pollens that can aggravate skin and sinuses (for dogs and people!). If your dog is itchy, you may notice a change in her Voyce Pro data, including higher levels of activity. If she scratches at night you may also see a decreased Longest Period of Uninterrupted Rest (since she may be fidgeting during the night). If you are concerned about itching, put a note in your Voyce data and contact your veterinarian, to see if any of these recent advancements are appropriate for your dog. And remember, many of the older treatments (Omega 3, medicated shampoos, prescription diets) still work well for many dogs, so you may need to add some of them into your regimen as well!