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Info & Advice

COMPANION ANIMALS

This page is dedicated to what we believe might be of interest for you and your pet. In-depth articles packed with useful information & practical tips for your companion animals. 

Skin Problems & Solutions

The number one cause of excessive scratching in dogs in Northland is fleas. With modern flea control, you may not even see live fleas on your pet, as the chemical will quickly kill the flea. However the flea will still have had time to bite your pet and make it itchy. If the itch is over the lower back, it is highly likely that fleas are the problem.
Parasites like ticks are easy to see and deal with, but there are some other skin parasites which are microscopic. One of these is a mite called Sarcoptes which can make dogs extremely itchy. It is highly contagious, can be very hard to find, but is easy to treat. Another mite, called Demodex, is easier to find but harder to treat.
Another common cause of itching is a rash caused by Tradescantia [also known as Wandering Jew or Wandering Willie]. This weed grows in uncultivated areas and near waterways. The sap of the plant causes a rash on hairless skin, like the dog’s belly, and it can look like masses of mosquito bites. It is important to keep affected dogs away from this plant especially when it is growing fast in warm, wet weather.
About 1 in 10 dogs can have skin allergies to things like house dust mite, pollens or various plants. These dogs often show up with itchy ears and feet, with signs starting between 1 and 3 years old. While we may not be able to cure the allergy, there are lots of things that can be done to help.
About 1 in 50 dogs can have itchy skin due to a food allergy. Usually the pet is allergic to a type of protein (i.e. beef, dairy, wheat or soy). To test if a dog has a food allergy, an elimination diet will need to be trialled. The wonderful thing about this allergy is that once the cause is identified, the dog’s problem can often be resolved just by dietary management.
Many dogs with itchy skins develop infections which make them even itchier. A very important part of treatment is checking for, treating, and controlling infections.
Dealing with a constantly itchy dog can be very frustrating – for the dog, the owner and the Vet! We can help a lot but often these pets need on-going management and every case is likely to need a tailor made treatment.  New medications are being researched all the time and we will keep you updated as they become available.


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