Licking, scratching, brown fur, and hair loss- how to help your itchy pet!

August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month, which is a short amount of time to dedicate to a problem that can affect our pets all year long. Allergies in people often cause sneezing and congestion, but our pets can experience allergies differently. Licking, scratching, hair loss and other symptoms can be a sign of allergic reaction or skin disease. Sometimes mild changes can signal a growing problem, and your veterinarian can help head off the signs before they worsen!

Types of allergies

Pets can be allergic to many things, including parasites, food, and environmental factors. Working step by step with your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of the allergy is key for long term control. Want a quick overview of the signs and symptoms of dermatological issues? Check out THRIVE’s video to learn more!


Fleas, ticks, and mites can all be easily picked up by pets, even if they only go out for a short amount of time in a yard! These bugs can carry disease, cause itching and inflammation, and can potentially affect the people around your pet. There are many great options for protections, and your veterinarian can discuss the best option for you. 


Many pets do great with a good quality food, but some pets can develop a sensitivity to ingredients in the foods. One of the most common culprits is the protein source in the food (allergies to grains are less common). In working through your pet’s allergies, please be sure to tell your vet team about any treats, people food, or extra snacks your pet may receive so nothing is missed. If a new food is recommended, be sure to only feed the directed food and do not change the type of food unless directed.  


Pollens, grasses, mold, and even mites can trigger allergies in pets. Instead of being stuffy, most pets get itchy. Your doctor may topical treatments such as bathing with a special shampoo to soothe and treat the skin, or allergy testing to help identify the most important allergens. We also have many remarkable medications to help your pet be comfortable, including oral and injectable therapies.

If your pet has changes in hair color, thinning or patchy hair loss, or is licking or scratching, call to schedule an appointment. One of the first steps is identifying and treating any underlying infection. To do this, your veterinarian may recommend a skin scrape to check for mites, a cytology to look for bacteria and yeast under the microscope, or even a culture to identify fungal organisms such as ringworm. It is essential that we completely eliminate infections completely, or they may just come back, bringing the itch with it.

Please call your veterinary team if your pet’s skin changes, the symptoms of itching or allergies worsen, or before giving any new foods or medications. With some investigating, persistence, and tailored treatment, we can make your pet more comfortable and beat the allergy itch!