Take Duffy, for instance. He’d been keeping his mum awake all night as his foot went thump-thump on the floor, tending to a particularly sore spot on his back, and it twitched involuntarily as I ran my hand over him on the consulting table. At this time of year, we always advise clients to attend to parasite control before they do anything else.
Fleas, mites and ticks are by far and away the most common cause of itching, so don’t assume that because you can’t see them they’re not there.
Cats, in particular, are such effective groomers that they may remove all traces of fleas from the coat, while mites are too small to be readily visible.
So, ask your vet about the most effective parasite treatment for your pet – and be sure to use it regularly.
Allergies are another common cause of itching, which may be suspected if your pet has a seasonal problem, particularly affecting the ears, muzzle and feet. Using a supplement of essential fatty acids and vitamins together with an antihistamine may help to reduce the signs.
Again, your vet can advise you on the best products to use.
Sometimes, it is enough to simply treat the signs of itching, but in more persistent cases, your vet may recommend further investigations.
This can involve both of you in a bit of detective work.
Noting if the itch has any pattern to it, which parts of the body are mainly affected and whether other in-contact animals are affected, for example, can help your vet to narrow down the possible causes.
Be aware that many of them do require long-term treatment but it is usually possible to manage the problem so that dogs like Duffy – and his long suffering owner – can get a good night’s sleep.