Clients often assume a pet's annoying, constant scratching stems from a behavioral issue. Most of the time, however, there's
an allergy behind the itching. Here's a way to steer such conversations in the right direction, says Dr. Paul Bloom, owner
of Allergy, Skin, and Ear Clinic for Pets in Livonia, Mich.
Client: Cassie is driving us nuts. She won't stop scratching—a constant thumpa-thumpa-thumpa. I've given her a bath with baby oil
because I thought it was dry skin, but it hasn't helped. I think she's just neurotic.
You: I'll let the doctor know to pay special attention to Cassie's skin during the examination, because itching isn't typically
a behavioral issue. Obsessively scratching, rubbing, or licking the skin are signs that Cassie may have an allergy.
Client: An allergy? From what?
You: The cause can be anything from fleas to mold, pollen, dust, or even her food. The smallest exposure to an allergen can set
off a major allergic reaction. And since allergies take awhile to develop, it may be something that's been around for some
Client: I don't know…
You: If left untreated, allergies can lead to bacterial skin infections, yeast infections, painful ear infections, and even skin
damage. I'd like to talk about the symptoms you're seeing, when they started, and what areas of the body are most affected.
Then the doctor will do a dermatological examination of Cassie's coat, skin, eyes, and ears. This will help start pinpointing
what's causing any allergic reaction. That way we'll know just the right treatment for providing everyone some much-needed