Dogs and [especially] cats have more than one way to scratch an itch. Just because Fluffy isn’t emulating the cartoon version of a flea-ridden mongrel doesn’t mean he isn’t itchy all over. Look for the following five signs other than scratching:
Bald areas are often a giveaway for an itchy pet. If your dog or cat is scratching when you aren’t able to see it happen, the writing will be on the wall in the form of bald patches.
Check your dog’s paws, sides, and around the ears for common areas of hair loss due to itch. Cats tend to have smooth, bald bellies, or missing fur on the insides of their legs.
Dogs, especially, tend to lick and sometimes chew at their paws when itchy. The occasional self-bath isn’t a big deal, but if your pet is licking multiple times a day or causing damage by licking, it’s a dead giveaway that something is wrong.
Not sure if there’s too much licking? Look for staining (saliva stains paws a pinkish brown color) if your pet has light colored fur, hair loss on the paws, crusting around nail beds, or moist and swollen skin between the toes and paw pads.
Despite being flexible, there are some spots dogs and cats just can’t scratch on their own. This is especially true for some breeds, such as bull dogs. Is your pet rubbing on furniture, walls, carpet, or you? This might be a creative form of scratching!
Again, look for signs that this is excessive – the occasional roll in the grass is totally normal, but if your pet is constantly using her environmental to handle her itch, she needs help.
When ear canals are itchy, some pets will scratch their ears. Others will only shake their heads. Something about that deep, constant irritation signals “shake it off!” to our four-legged friends.
If your pet is shaking his head several times a day and especially if the inside of the ears looks abnormal (red or puffy skin, stinky discharge), this could indicate allergies or an infection.
Both dogs and cats cat be so itchy that they create a variety of different sores. Cats can even develop them spontaneously without any other signs of itchiness (cats had to be special, didn’t they?!).
Many pet parents are familiar with “hot spots” (red, moist areas of raw skin caused by excessive scratching), but there are a variety of others: lip ulcers, thickened patches of hairless skin on the paws or legs, or large numbers of tiny scabs all over the back or neck.
If you notice any of the above in your pet, it’s probably time for a checkup. Often the source of the itch is obvious – fleas, a simple infection, or a recent dip in a pond – and can be quickly resolved before your pet is more uncomfortable.
For pets with long-standing or recurrent itch issues, we can help you narrow down the causes and figure out how to manage it safely. We may even be able to cure the problem.
If your pet is scratching, or showing any of these other signs of itchiness, get in touch. We’ll help get to the bottom of it!