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Paws For Thought: Itching In Pets

March 1, 2024

Has your pet seemed itchy lately? Does your furry buddy frequently rub up against things? Does your pet act as though they are in seventh heaven when you finally give in? Both humans and pets find itches annoying. It’s not unusual for pets to have the occasional itch, but persistent itchiness is an indication that something is wrong. Of course, you ‘ll need to  determine the precise cause of your pet’s itching before you can take any action. Read on for some thoughts on this from a nearby Fayetteville, NY veterinarian.

When Does A Pet’s Itching Become A Cause For Concern?

It’s important to watch out for signs that there may be more going on than just the odd itch. After all, your furry best pal can’t tell you when they need to visit the vet! The most obvious red flag is persistent itching, but there are additional things to be on the lookout for.

Here are some key ones:

  • Black, Green, Yellow, Red, Or Brownish Discharge Or Wax From The Ears
  • Pawing The Ears, Face, Or Head
  • Head Shaking
  • Biting Or Licking Themselves Compulsively
  • Constant Scratching And Chewing
  • Fur Loss
  • Flea Dirt
  • Licking The Paws
  • Skin Discoloration
  • Scabbing 
  • Flaking
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Lesions, Pimples, Abscesses, Or Pustules

If you observe any of these signs, get in touch with your veterinarian right away. There are treatments that can help your pet, but you’ll need to get a proper diagnosis first. And while itching may not be a medical emergency, if the problem continues, your pet could get an infection. Besides, your furry friend won’t be very comfortable until they get relief! 

Why Do Pets Get Itchy?

Our furry pals can become itchy for a variety of reasons. Some are quite simple to identify. For example, it’s fairly safe to conclude that your pet has fleas if you see flea filth or, worse, live fleas in their coat. Other causes, though, can be more difficult to identify.

Here are a few common causes of pet itchiness:

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are pretty concerning. These frequently arise from scratches or wounds that rip the skin, and may cause pustules, peeling, redness, and swelling. 


Fido and Fluffy don’t enjoy allergies any more than we do. Itching isn’t the only possible reaction. Sneezing, snoring, skin irritation, red, watery eyes, and upset tummies are other indicators of allergic responses.

Pet allergies fall into a few specific categories:

  • Food Allergies These arise when pets’ immune systems see a particular food—usually a protein—as an “invader” and react accordingly. You’ll need to figure out exactly what isn’t agreeing with Fido or Fluffy. Your vet may recommend putting your four-legged buddy on a very bland diet until symptoms stop. Then, you can begin reintroducing things one at a time to pinpoint what they react to.
  • Contact Dermatitis As the name implies, this is an inflammatory skin condition brought on by direct touch with a material or substance. It often causes red, irritated, and/or flaky skin, discoloration, hair loss, and tiny pimples or pustules. Contact dermatitis can be caused by many things, such as plants, fibers, chemicals, and shampoos. 
  • Seasonal Allergies Grass, pollen, and particular plants or foliage are frequently the cause of seasonal allergies. Pets may also react to dust mites and mold, among other things.

Dry, Chafed Skin

Itching doesn’t always mean there’s a medical problem going on. Sometimes dry skin is to blame. Environmental factors frequently come into play here. Winter’s dry air frequently creates dry, itchy skin in both people and pets. Harsh shampoos can also cause dryness, as can overbathing. Pets’ skin is extremely delicate! 

Hydration is crucial here. Make sure that your pet is getting enough water. A healthy diet is also very important. Many high-quality foods contain fatty acids and Omegas 3 and 6 oils, which help maintain the health and nourishment of your pet’s skin and coat. Ask your vet for more information.


Our animal friends can experience stress and worry, just like people do. Even though your pet isn’t concerned about inflation or worrying about whether you’ll finish that assignment on time, they can and do get anxious about things. Pets frequently experience stress due to major changes. Other possibilities include boredom, loneliness, discomfort, and conflict with other pets. 

It’s not unusual for animals to over groom themselves as a response to anxiety. This is comparable to compulsive actions in humans, such as biting one’s nails or bouncing one’s leg. Over grooming can result in hair loss and skin irritation, which can leave Fido and Fluffy vulnerable to skin infections. 

Sometimes cats go the other way and undergroom themselves. This can also cause issues.

Fungus-Related Infections

Fungal infections are next on the list. These take many different forms, none of which are particularly fun for either you or your pet. Dogs who have floppy ears or skin folds  often get yeast infections. Another possible reason is ringworm, which is actually not a worm but a fungus. you might observe a rash, redness, scaly or crusty skin, and, occasionally, an unpleasant smell.

Topical medicine can be effective in treating fungal infections. Of course, your veterinarian will need to prescribe this. 

What Is The Best Way To Stop My Pet From Itching?

There are many treatment options that can help Fido and Fluffy, including medication, steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, and medicated shampoos. Your veterinarian might also recommend other alternatives, such as an oatmeal bath or even a particular oil, such as olive or coconut oil. However, it’s crucial to get a proper diagnosis, so you can make sure the issue is being treated correctly. Doing the wrong thing could actually make matters worse! For this reason, we always, always advise scheduling a visit with your veterinarian and getting specific advice.

Parasitic Infestations

Of course, the primary offender here is the flea. However, ticks can also be the culprit. Although tick bites rarely cause pain, certain pets do react to them. Remember that in addition to potentially spreading other parasites, fleas and ticks can also transmit serious diseases. Keep up with Fido and Fluffy’s preventative care!

Mites can also cause itching. These tiny monsters come in a few different varieties. We’ll start with ear mites. As you can undoubtedly imagine, ear mites live in the ear canals of pets and cause excruciating itching. Your pet may start to shake their head constantly if this is the issue. Mange, sometimes known as scabies, is caused by Sarcoptic mites in dogs and cats. (Unfortunately, people can also get them.) Then there are Demodex mites, which live beneath the skin. 

In Conclusion: Many different factors, including allergies, stress, and parasites, can cause itching in pets. If your furry best friend is itching, reach out to your veterinary clinic and schedule an appointment right away. The issue will need to be properly identified before it can be treated.

Has your pet recently had itching skin? Is it necessary to arrange for grooming? Please feel free to reach out to us here at your Fayetteville, NY neighborhood vet practice any time. We are always happy to help!