Itchy Skin

An itchy skin in pets is an unpleasant sensation which provokes a scratching desire. When your cat or dog has an extremely itchy area, it could lead to self-mutilation.

Being the largest organ of your pet’s body, it has many nerves making it highly prone to sensations of touch, cold, heat, pain and itch.

Your pet itches because it is one of the ways of its  body to remove “something”. Scratching is the body’s normal response to get rid of any chemical, microbe, or foreign body that may do further harm when in contact for a longer period of time. It provides temporary relief by turning off the first four sensations.

Excessive scratching leads to injury, aggression, and pain.


  1. Sarcoptic mange (microscopic skin parasite transferrable to you)
  2. Atopy (skin asthma-like allergic disease)
  3. Flea allergy (small skin parasites that bites your legs)
  4. Bacterial skin infection or “hotspots” (wet and greenish wounds on body)
  5. Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (psychological cat disease)
  6. Feline scabies (cat mange or microscopic parasite that burrows under the skin of the face and ears)
  7. Food allergy
  8. Allergic contact dermatitis (from chemicals or irritants, usually on belly, legs, and paws)
  1. Demodectic mange (microscopic skin parasite that is not transferrable to you)
  2. Pyoderma (superficial bacterial skin infection)
  3. Dermatophytosis (fungal infection of the skin)
  4. Seborrhea (extremely scaly and dry skin)

Based on my years of clinical experience,

patients are presented with combinations of the above problems making diagnosis and treatment long, difficult and expensive.


To uncover the layers of problems of the skin, it is very important to have your pet undergo multiple skin tests. Apart from the physical exam, a skin scraping has good diagnostic value.  A skin scraping is a procedure when your vet lightly scrapes multiple sites of the skin to acquire a sample. The sample is set under the microscope to identify the presence of mites that cause mange. If negative, more tests are needed to perform in order to rule out other conditions. I recommend not giving your pet a bath 3 days prior to the checkup in order to prevent a false negative result in skin scraping. If you have, tell your vet about this before you come.

You may not get answers and results right away as it usually takes a month or two to get a marked improvement, and unearth the layers of problems your pet has.


Step 1

If this is a “just today” problem, observe your pet for the next few hours. If your pet starts to bite on a particular area of the body and it turns alarmingly red, put an Elizabethan collar. Correct tightness can be determined when two fingers perfectly fit when inserted on the rim that comes in contact with your pet’s skin.

Step 2

Take a photograph of the affected area for reference.

When there is a non-bleeding wound and your pet allows it, lightly towel bath the affected area. Use cold water to numb the area. Lather a gentle pet soap or shampoo, and then remove all using the damp towel.  Apply Povidone-Iodine solution (Betadine) using a cotton bud.

If the wound is bleeding, check if it is superficial or deep. For superficial, clean only the area around the clot or scab. Do not remove the scab. For deep bleeding wound, apply light pressure through a sterile gauze or clean cloth then seek immediate veterinary care.

Step 3

Remove the e-collar the next day, and if the itching persists visit your vet because tests are needed to be done.

Step 4

Never attempt to self-medicate with anti-histamines or steroids tablets or creams, unless your vet has instructed you in the past to do so.

If this is a recurring skin problem and you still have an unexpired previous prescription, use it temporarily for a few days if your vet has previously instructed you to do so.

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