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Excessive Scratching: Causes and Treatments

How do you know when your furry friend’s scratching is normal and when it’s signaling a problem that needs treatment? In the WebMD Pet Health Community, M. Duffy Jones, DVM, says that if the scratching has gotten frequent enough for it to bother you, that probably means there’s an underlying cause that should be checked out before it gets worse -- or before the scratching itself causes an infection.

Among the causes of persistent scratching in pets, Jones highlights:

  • Allergic reactions. Dogs in particular tend to get into battles with bees. Then they will scratch and paw at the painful and irritating sting site. In these situations, Jones recommends treating your pet with a combination of antihistamines and steroids. If there is any swelling in your pet’s mouth, face, or neck, see your veterinarian immediately.
  • Allergies. If your pet has allergies, you and your veterinarian will have to play detective to figure out what he’s allergic to. Medications, frequent baths, and changes in diet can help relieve your pet's allergy symptoms in these cases.
  • Fleas and mites. Jones says that it's actually good news when you find out that your pet's itching is the result of fleas or mites, as they are very easily treated. He notes that some pets are actually allergic to fleas, meaning that just a couple of them on the skin can cause serious problems. So be sure to consult with your vet about treating fleas and mites. He or she can treat your pet in the safest and surest ways possible.

Has your pet ever developed a constant itch? What did you learn was causing it, and how were you able to relieve it?

Discussion led by M. Duffy Jones, DVM Guest Expert
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Dr. Jones is an Atlanta-based veterinarian who founded the Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital of Atlanta in 2005…More

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