Got an itch?


Dogs scratch and it’s perfectly normal. It’s so normal that most of the time you don’t even notice it. When you think about it (or better when you concentrate on it), you will realise that you too will rub your nose or scratch your scalp, but even that itch can be dangerous and painful to your loving pooch.

Pruritus: an intense itching sensation that can have various causes…
Pruritus (medical term for “itching”) is different and is usually the symptom of an underlying problem that needs to be dealt effi ciently and correctly because symptoms can only worsen or come back with a vengeance and your dog will not only end up scaly, scruffy, smelly, hairless but most of all, he’ll be in pain.Symptoms of Pruritus … There are different signs of pruritus, which not only include scratching but also chewing, gnawing, rubbing or rolling. Usually the repeated trauma will cause lesions which in turn will become infected, causing more itchiness and discomfort…thus, making it a real nightmare not only for the dog but also for his pet parent.Preventing Pruritus …
The causes of pruritus can be multiple and only your vet can fi nd out exactly what the main reason is? It’s better not to start fi ddling with drugs, ointments (or neighbour’s advises) but you can defi nitively take preventative measures to avoid it.

Balanced diet:
Skin is not only a barrier between dog and outside world but it also plays numerous vital roles such as vitamin synthesis or immune reactions. Make sure you supply all the nutrients needed for a healthy and effi cient skin and coat. Do you know that the hair is made of 90 % protein? Specifi c fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are also indispensable for keeping the multiple cutaneous functions fully operational. Balancing a diet is a diffi cult exercise and it’s better to feed your dog a reputable brand complete food. It’s worth spending the money in food because you will offer your dog the best chance to feel and look good. We all know that a shiny coat is a sign of good health…and a healthier pooch too.
Flea control: Another easy thing to do is to implement a thorough fl ea control, which means treating not only dog but also the environment. Don’t think that only dirty street dogs get fl eas! In fact fl eas are blood suckers and they love to feed on a clean and healthy animal. The problem with these creatures is that they lay thousands of eggs, these eggs can survive for months in the environment, not only in bedding, carpets or wooden fl oor but also in gardens and parks. If your dog is allergic to fl ea bites (and many are), one bite is enough to trigger the vicious circle of “itching and scratching.”
Parasite control: Other parasites which can cause an irresistible need to scratch include microscopic mite which dig burrows in the skin where it lays eggs. Furthermore, this one is contagious to human (it’s what’s called a zoonosis)! So, control these parasites if you don’t want the whole family to end up with scabies!

Preventing allergies:
Not all itches are caused by parasites and bugs, many of them are in fact the expression of an allergic disease. Unlike people, dogs are not really prone to asthma but they tend to express the over-ride of their immune system through their skin. The diagnostic work-up of allergic skin diseases takes time and commitment. Follow your vet’s instruction to achieve it rapidly and make your dog’s life easier.
Just like us dogs can be allergic not only to food but also to dust mites, pollens or mould. As you can imagine fi nding the culprit can be a real detective work and trying to avoid it is also very diffi cult. This doesn’t mean the pet parent must become obsessed with bathing his pet. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Shampoos can be rather aggressive and overuse will lead to defence reaction with the skin becoming scaly and greasy. Regular brushing is the best way to remove dust, debris and shed hair. It will also stimulate the production of the lipids and reinforce the shine and waterproofi ng of the coat. As a result, your dog will look beautiful, feel great and no doubt, you’ll be a happy owner!
(Dr. Fabienne Dethioux qualifi ed as DVM in 1983 in Belgium, her native country (Université de Liège). In January 2003 she joined Royal Canin R&D, she is now incharge of the Scientifi c Communication for Royal Canin and her main interest is dermatology.)