PEI

How itchy is too itchy for your dog? How to tell

While ear scratches are often appreciated by our canine friends, dogs who scratch excessively could be suffering from allergies or skin conditions. Here's what to look for.

Some tips from P.E.I.'s new veterinary dermatologist

Dr. Charlie Pye has been coming to work at AVC for short periods over the last 6 years to see patients, but now she's practising out of the college permanently. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

While ear scratches are often appreciated by our canine friends, dogs who scratch themselves a lot could be suffering from allergies or skin conditions.

P.E.I.'s new veterinary dermatologist Dr. Charlie Pye put on a workshop Tuesday evening at the AVC about common medical conditions that can cause dogs to scratch excessively. 

A number of breeds including Labradors, pugs and Boston terriers are predisposed to allergies and skin conditions, Pye said.

Dog with excessively itchy skin can indicate an allergy, skin condition or even a parasite.

Pye shared some tare couple of things to look out for if you have an itchy pup at home.

1. Changes in weather

Just like humans, dogs can be sensitive to pollen and changes in weather. (Anna Hudorozkova/Shutterstock)

Just like humans, dogs can be sensitive to pollen and changes in weather.

"If dogs have allergies related to the environment — so things like pollen, trees, grasses — any time it warms up and starts to pollinate we can see allergic reactions related to that which can lead to the dog getting itchy," Pye said.

Certain types of mold spores that are more prevalent when it's wet outside or when snow is melting can be irritants, she said. 

2. Disrupting the routine

A number of breeds including labradors, pugs, and Boston terriers are predisposed to allergies and skin conditions, Pye says. (Shutterstock/Dan Kosmayer)

If you're waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your dog scratching, it could be a sign that a trip to the vet is in order, Pye said.

"If they can't eat their dinner without stopping to scratch — that's definitely an abnormal level of itch. If they're walking along and they have to stop to scratch themselves, those things indicate that to me that they are much itchier than they should be," she said.

3. Damaged or inflamed skin

Excessively itchy dogs can indicate an allergy, skin condition or even a parasite. (Shutterstock)

"If their skin is really red and inflamed — definitely that's too high of a level of itch and we need to figure out what's going on," Pye said.

As dogs scratch, just like humans, they can damage their skin. This can lead to infections and hair loss, Pye said.

If you do have an excessively itchy dog, there are various ways to treat them. Diet changes, anti-inflammatory medications and allergy testing are just some of the possible methods of treatment available, she said.

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