What is Pruritus?
Pruritus is the veterinary term for itching. This condition causes much distress to animals and as a result there is an irresistible urge to scratch and bite their skin. It is usually a symptom of most skin conditions such as allergies, skin parasites such as fleas, as well as bacterial and yeast infections that affect both dogs and cats.
The common symptoms and signs of pruritus include:
- Reddening of the skin
- Hair loss
- Licking of the feet
What Causes Pruritus?
Pruritus develops when a chemical reaction in the skin stimulates the nerves and sends a signal to the brain where the itch is felt or sensed. When intense itching occurs, the skin becomes inflamed and skin lesions develop. If left untreated, these skin lesions may lead to a bacterial infection and spread to other areas of the skin.
The diagnosis of pruritus is based on the symptoms presented, thorough physical examination as well as review of your pet’s medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as skin scrapings, fungal cultures and skin biopsy may be performed to rule out primary diseases that may be the underlying cause of cat or dog pruritus.
Help for Pruritus
Treatment involves treating the underlying cause and providing symptomatic relief. Various medications such as soothing shampoos and conditioners, antihistamines, anti-itch creams, cooling salves, omega- 3 fatty acid supplements or immunotherapy may be prescribed. For more severe episodes of pruritus, corticosteroids may also be used but keep in mind that these drugs cause serious side effects such as excessive thirst, frequent urinating and panting.
Natural and holistic remedies may also be used to support the health and functioning of your pet’s skin and coat. Herbs, homeopathic ingredients and biochemic salts act as a gentler alternative to conventional medications but without the harsh side effects.
A combination of natural remedies for pruritus in cats and dogs exist and includes herbs and biochemic salts such as Equisetum arvense (Horsetail), Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion), Arthrospira platenis (Spirulina) and Kalium sulphate which help maintain a healthy skin and glossy coat while also supporting the immune system. Carefully selected ingredients such as Arum triph, Viola tri, Comocladia, Chamomilla and Cina support skin health and provides symptomatic relief for itchiness, scratching, redness and burning of the skin.
More Information on Pruritus
Tips to manage and cope with pruritus in pets
Although dog and cat pruritus cannot be prevented, there are certain things that can be done to manage this condition and provide symptomatic relief:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food or an all natural diet without preservatives, additives and colorants
- Avoid making sudden changes to your pet’s diet. Gradually introduce new foods and then monitor what effect they have on your pet
- Make sure that your pet’s coat is clean by bathing him regularly with a soothing shampoo
- When bathing your pet, avoid the eye area and use a sponge when washing the face
- Use products specifically prescribed for your pet’s skin type and avoid using human and over-the-counter products
- Make sure that pets with long haired coats are clipped or shaved to make bathing easier
- Brush your dog or cat’s coat daily to prevent matting and increase circulation
- Avoid exposing your pet to allergens and irritants such as pollen, dust mites, chemicals, household detergents, pesticides or fertilizers
- Use a flea repellent recommended by your vet
- Keep your pet’s living clean by disinfecting regularly