Allergic dermatitis is consistently one of the major reasons dogs and cats are seen by veterinarians. The itchiness and scratching can have a number of causes, and the sooner the exact reason for your pet's discomfort can be determined, the better.

In some cases, there may be a medical condition present that needs immediate treatment before it can get worse. Over time, open wounds may develop as well, causing pain that could have been prevented by taking action sooner.

The most common triggers for allergies and itching in small animals are flea bites, foods, and environmental factors (such as dust, mites and pollens). Failure to manage the initial symptoms can lead to the development of other more serious issues, including hair loss and infections. Mites and ringworm fungus can also create skin problems, so your veterinarian will check for them as part of your pet's initial evaluation. 


Is there anything I can do at home to help?

Yes, there are home remedies that can provide some relief to your pet until you can get to the vet's office and learn the underlying cause of the problem. Baking soda, coconut oil, and colloidal oatmeal baths have been found to lessen the urge to scratch. Chamomile tea bags can be steeped, then cooled, then applied to itchy, irritated paws and skin. If you suspect that food is the culprit, changing the diet might help. Environmental factors can be much harder to pin down without testing by a professional and may include pollen, molds, dust spores, and dander. 


What treatment options can I expect to be offered?

Depending upon the situation, care may involve first relieving the pain and itchiness and then treating any bacterial infection that may be present. Steroids or antihistamines may be prescribed, along with antibiotic or anti-fungal medication. It may be necessary for your pet to wear a protective collar so the affected area has a chance to heal without being made worse by licking or biting. For allergies, discovering the cause and treating the underlying condition is the goal. That process may require multiple visits, but it's the only way your veterinarian will be able to break your pet's cycle of allergic reaction and discomfort.