5 Reasons Your Pet is Itching and Scratching

One of the most common calls we get this time of year is that of Mr. Itchy’s owner.

“I can’t even sleep at night Mr. Itchy is digging at his skin so badly, what do I do!”

or Miss Scratchy’s owner:

“She is starting to lose hair from all this scratching she is doing!”

Trust us, you are not alone!  There are several reasons your dog or cat might be itching.  The bottom line is: Don’t let them suffer!  There is a diagnosis to be made and a proper treatment plan can be applied to Mr. Itchy and Miss Scratchy’s situations.

The aforementioned calls often refer to fairly serious cases of pruritis.  While some pets (similarly to humans) are able to trot through fields, dig in the dirt, and tumble through the grass with no problems, other fur friends can stay indoors, be fed an excellent diet and still have severe skin disorders.

So let’s filter through some reasons for pet scratch fever:single_image image=”4525″ img_size=”large”]

You know that green stuff in our front and back lawn?  That stuff sticking up out of the ground called grass?  Some pet’s are sensitive to even the simplest of it.  By speaking with on of our veterinarians and determining what your pet is exposed to that may be causing a reaction, we can take develop a plan for your pet depending on the severity of his/her sensitivity.

Another example is moist eczema often referred to as a “hot spot.”  These skin lesions are often the result of moisture on the skin’s surface from rain or pond activities.  Some cases of moist eczema spread very quickly and require aggressive therapy to correct.

Even contact with plastics can cause environmental dermatitis.

For each of these issues, there is a treatment plan to resolve/subdue the flare ups.vc_single_image image=”4526″ img_size=”large”]

Food can easily be the culprit behind your pet’s awful skin sensations.

“Complete and Balanced,” does not always mean complete and balanced.

Unfortunately, many canines and felines live their entire lives in less than optimal health because owners choose the least expensive pet food they can get their hands on.  Spending a bit extra on a high quality diet can have an immense impact on your pets skin (and health in general).  We carry several diets that can help remedy skin issues.

Oftentimes a food trial can help determine if food is the reason behind your pet’s skin issues.  Keep in mind we even carry hypoallergenic diets if your pet is particularly sensitive to foods.  These trials do take several weeks to know whether or not the change is helping, but can be completely worth it to your pet should the skin issues stop.

Adding in Omega Fatty Acids to your pet’s diets can provide additional help for your pet’s skin while assisting in maintaining a quality coat at the same time.

Fleas and ticks along with other creepy crawlies can easily be the cause of itching as well, especially if prevention is not applied to the scratchy pet. Repeated exposure to fleas can cause a hypersensitivity (excessive reaction) to even just a single flea bite.  There are a number of highly effective preventatives available to Peoria pets that will keep these little parasites at bay.

Interestingly, tick bites often do not cause itching, however can leave ulcerative lesions on your pet’s skin that can be extremely slow to heal.

Cheyletiella, sarcoptic, and demodex (mange) mites can also be the cause of horrible skin issues for your pet (and some can even cause issues for humans).

Chiggers, deer flies, and gnats are generally considered nuisances and rarely cause systemic issues with your pet’s skin.  Treatment for bites from these with first aid ointments are generally successful.

Our veterinarians can exam your pets skin closely and see if little parasites are the problem when it comes to your pet’s skin.

Bacterial, fungal, and yeast organisms are obnoxious pathogens notorious for causing problems with pet’s skin and coats.  Fungal organisms are known as dermatophytes.  One specific dermatophyte (Microsporum canis) causes circular patches of hairloss often known as ringworm.

Yeast infections are also prevalent in our pets.  The ears of your pet are a prime breeding ground for developing a yeast infection known as otitis externa.  There are treatment options for your pet if the ears seem to be red and inflammed and have a less than desirable scent.

Another common skin issue in our pets is infectious dermatitis.  This condition is so irritating to our pets that they will continuously lick/chew at the infected area preventing any healing from taking place.  This infection can spread and even be transported to different areas of your pet due to the licking and chewing.  Our doctors can clip the hair around the affected areas, treat with ointments and also send you with cone to prevent further damage that your pet can’t help but cause.

This cause of skin issues may be the most difficult to diagnose and treat.  If all the previous issues are tested and checked for to no avail, it may just be the pet itself causing the skin issues with no help from any parasites, infections, allergies, etc.

The common forms of this are acral lick dermatitis, lick granuloma, or canine neurodermatitis.  These can occur when “something,” causes your pet to lick at an area.  This “something,” can be boredom, separation anxiety, or prolonged confinement.  Additionally it may even be a minor cut or scrape that has caught the pets attention that they simply won’t leave alone even after it has healed.  At this point the pet will continue to abuse the area and skin is never allowed to heal.

In felines, psychogenic alopecia can become an issue where your cat will over groom and is usually caused by stress such as a move or introduction of something new to a home.  Again this is diagnosed if no other medical reason behind the over grooming is present.

A behaviorist may be your pet’s best friend in these situations if you can simply not find a way to distract your pet from licking/chewing it’s skin.

Our doctors and staff are here to help figure out what is causing these issues for your pet.  If the itching and scratching is driving you crazy, it assuredly is uncomfortable for your pet.  Contact any of our locations (Dunlap, Peoria, Chillicothe) to schedule your visit and help solve the skin dilemma!

A Cruciate Conversation

Diagnosing, treating, and recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament can be an extremely difficult process for pets and their parents.  Since 2002 Dr. John Calhoun has performed over 250 cruciate repairs at our Dunlap, Peoria, and Chillicothe locations.  We decided to sit down and talk to Dr. John about the procedure itself as well as one of his more recent cruciate repairs on a 4 year old golden retreiver named Ize.  We also asked Ize’s owner several questions to help describe the process from a pet parent’s standpoint. Here is what they had to say (with awesome pictures of Ize sprinkled in for some added cuteness):[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

(To Ize’s Mom) Describe Ize with a couple of words: “Super energetic, and extremely affectionate”

Dr. Calhoun’s Response: Agreed!! She is one of the friendliest, liveliest, and most rambunctious patients we have.  Getting her through the downtimes of recovery would be challenging.

(To Ize’s Mom *paraphrasing) What has your experience been like throughout this process: “It was tough on multiple levels.  Getting the cruciate tear diagnosed proved to be slightly difficult.  Even after sedation Dr. John did not feel a drawer consistent with a complete rupture and did not want to just go into surgery as this was the most involved of our options.  We tried the less involved options prior to eventually ensuring it was a ruptured cruciate worthy of surgery.  I appreciate that he was an advocate for Ize AND us.  The fact that he wanted to be sure it was the cruciate ligament causing the problems before undergoing the surgical procedure shows that he was putting himself in our shoes.  The post procedure has been tough also, Ize has never been one to be on a leash and for recovery purposes we must walk her outside to potty every time.  We also have frequent visits to either the Dunlap, Peoria, or Chillicothe location for laser therapy and rechecks from Dr. Calhoun.

Dr. Calhoun’s response: Ize is a lively pet that epitomizes the struggles of getting through the long, hopefully calm, recovery period associated with a ruptured cruciate ligament.  A partial tear can often scar over and heal with time and inactivity which is a challenging scenario given the energy locked up in Ize.  However, a complete tear requires just as much, if not more, rest.  No matter what we decided, we had our hands full.  We opted for the least invasive route initially, hoping that we could get this resolved with as little added trauma as possible.

(To Ize’s Mom) How do you feel about our new loyalty program?:  “The surgery Ize had to undergo is not inexpensive so we wound up with a $225 credit that we didn’t plan on having.  You see programs like fuel saver rewards, or pharmacy rewards, which are okay, but with this program you see a tangible and substantial return.  For us it was a nice added bonus.”

Dr. Calhoun’s Response: Ize represents exactly what we were hoping to accomplish when we first set up the loyalty program.  Our combined efforts to get her through this have undoubtably made us all understand each other a bit more and the Loyalty Program makes these big ticket necessities much easier to recommend, pursue, understand, and agree to.  It allows us all to work towards making the pets happier and healthier.

(To Ize’s Mom) What is one piece of advice you could give to pet owners facing a similar situation as yourself?: “Be mindful of your pet’s health and follow the instructions from Dr.”

Dr. Calhoun’s Response: A ruptured cruciate ligament repair requires a team effort for full recovery.  Our job at the clinic is only part of what’s needed.  Home care and lots of TLC are also important factors associated with getting this healed in a successful way.

(To Ize’s Mom) If Ize could say one thing to Dr. John, what would it be?: *laughing* “Thanks for fixing me!!!”

Dr. Calhoun’s Response: Like I said, this was a team effort and I can’t wait to see you again!!!

Divide and Conquer Veterinary Bills

Protecting your pet with vaccines and preventatives is a big part of ensuring their safety and well being.  Bringing Fido in for rabies, distemper/parvo/parainfluenza/adenovirus, leptospirosis, bordetella, canine influenza, a stool sample, heartworm test, heartworm preventative, and flea/tick preventative can be a valuable yet pricey trip.  We understand that sometimes that chunk of change isn’t lying under the cushions your furry friend sleeps on, but fortunately we have a couple of tips to help split that cost and also save in the long run![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Step One

Opt for Proheart as your pet’s heartworm preventative.  This preventative option is unique in the fact that it is administered as a six month injection instead of a monthly pill/topical treatment.  Going with Proheart provides the benefit of avoiding missed or late dosing of your pet’s heartworm preventative so long as you come back in time for the next injection (side note: we will call and remind you).  We are all busy, late dosing on a preventative leaves your pet at risk, and trust us, mosquitoes don’t play the waiting game when it comes to biting us or our pets.

Step 2

Selecting Proheart has provided another benefit for your wallet.  You can choose to split your vaccinations and administer bordetella as well as the canine influenza during the second of the biyearly preventative injections.  You can even choose to split the cost of your flea and tick preventatives to purchase 6 months at a time to further disperse payment into smaller biyearly amounts.  If you really plan it out, you can perform the yearly stool sample at this time as well to get as close to even amounts as possible!  Keep in mind also, that because you have chosen Proheart, you pay NOTHING for your pet’s heartworm test (a $40 savings).

Step Awesome

With our new loyalty program, you can choose to use your rewards for being a client of ours during your second visit.  You can redeem a FREE nail trim at this time or even choose to save your points for something like a FREE examination or 15% off an entire invoice!

Choosing this option also has the benefit of putting your pet in front of one of our amazing doctors more often which is great for health maintenance!

Grooming Recommendations for Double Coated Dogs


by: Lori Newcomer

A double coated dog is any dog with a harsh outer coat and soft under coat. The soft undercoat is what sheds a leaves tumbleweeds all over your house. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies are just a few examples of double coated breeds. The outer coat and the under coat grow independently from one another and grow to different lengths. The outer coat is longer and tends to grow slower, while the under coat is shorter and grows faster and also “turns over”, or sheds twice a year.

1. Dogs with double coats tend to have sensitive skin. This means that your double coated dog if shaved may come home with razor burn, irritated skin and is much more likely to get sunburned. The skin of these breeds is more sensitive because the thick hair protects them from the sun, bug bites, and anything else that your dog encounters during a hike, a romp in the backyard, or a roll on the carpet.

2. It doesn’t exactly make them shed less. Double coated dogs shed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, and that is the undercoat. The rest of the year, the shedding is normal hair turn over and that is seen in all animals with hair Shaving them does not prevent this from happening, it just makes the pieces smaller. Instead of having your dog shaved to get rid of unwanted hair, having the dog groomed on a regular schedule will remove all the dead undercoat, leaving only healthy coat and stopping those tumbleweeds from rolling across the floor.

3. It can permanently damage the condition of the coat. The under coat, as stated before is short and dense while the outer coat is longer, glossy and harder. The undercoat is all that is left when you shave a double coated dog and as it grows faster than the outer coat, it takes a very long time for the outer coat to catch up. This means that there is no outer coat to protect the under coat leaving the coat sparse and dull. This result is because the undercoat it is not protected by the outer coat once shaved. It also damages the cycle of the hair, making the shedding time unpredictable and in some cases never ending.

4. With so many breeds to choose from, it is easy to find a coat you like. If you don’t like the hair of a Rough Collie, go for a Smooth Collie. If you don’t want a dog with as much hair as a Golden Retriever, maybe a Boxer will be more your style.

5. The undercoat provides insulation in the winter and believe it or not it does keep them cool in the summer. If your dog has a well groomed coat, with no dead undercoat, the coat keeps the dog warm in winter by providing insulation and keeping the dog’s skin dry. In the summer, it provides the dog with his own air conditioning system, keeping him cool. Yes, this does mean they need to be groomed to remove excess undercoat so the coat can do its job. Your dog with not be hot with all that coat, it is actually keeping him cool and protected. As long as they are not shaved or severely matted, their coat will do its job and keep their temperature regulated.

6. Most dog owners don’t want a show dog and that is completely understandable but a breed standard exists for a reason, especially when it comes to double coated breeds. Be proud of your dog and their glorious coat, and educated yourself on why they need the coat they have.

7. It increases the amount of allergens on the dog’s skin. Some people shave their double coated dogs because some family members may be allergic but that doesn’t quite make sense. The dander of the dog is most of the time what people are allergic to and having it right on the surface is not going to help the allergy issues. Having the dog groomed will keep up with the dander and the loose dead hair, and that will help with allergies.