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6 Things You Don't Know about Itchy Pets

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer, DVM, DACVIM on Friday, April 10, 2015
Posted April 10, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Itchy skin is more correctly referred to as “pruritus,” which is defined as an unpleasant sensation within the skin that provokes the desire to scratch. Itchy skin is the result of inflammation or irritation associated with the release of chemicals from inflammatory cells in the skin. When these cells are stimulated by a chemical trigger, they release a variety of chemicals that initiate the discomfort of itching. That is one reason that the more you scratch, the more you itch. The key is to break the cycle, let these 6 surprising itch facts help you with that.

1. Itching is not a disease

It's a clinical sign, and every effort should be made to find the cause, not just treat. Skin diseases can be very challenging to diagnose and treat. This may result in some tests that seem a bit confusing to you:

  • Skin scrapings
  • Skin biopsies
  • Blood tests to check for hormonal diseases (such as thyroid deficiency)
  • Allergy testing and trial treatments

If you're confused by any of the testing, ask your veterinarian to clarify.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.