Dr. Jeff Dand cares for a dog at the Cadboro Bay Vet Clinic. The clinic’s staff provide a variety of services for pets and work with many dog and cat owners whose animals are suffering from skin problems.

Does your dog have an itch he just can’t scratch?

Cadboro Bay Vet Clinic shares 5 things you might not know about healthy skin

When it comes to your dog’s comfort, infections, rashes or other skin conditions can make their life miserable.

Skin concerns, while they may seem at first to be localized, can often be a sign of other health issues such as allergies, says Dr. Jeff Dand at Cadboro Bay Vet Clinic.

Like humans, dogs scratch an itch in the places they can reach, which can mistakenly lead pet owners to believe the issue is in that one area.

Figuring out the root of the problem, rather than simply treating the symptoms, is one of the ways this vet clinic helps find longer-term solutions to discomfort.

An onsite lab allows the veterinary team to do blood work in-house and dig deeper into a health problem, from determining the cause of an allergy to discovering the early signs of kidney disease or diabetes, for example.

Dand, one of three dedicated veterinarians at the full-service clinic, has seen a lot during his 20-plus years in veterinary medicine and knows what to look for when it comes to skin issues.

1. Scratching that itch: “Allergies can manifest in different ways. A chronic ear infection or licking the paws can be a sign of allergies, as can scratching or chewing,” he says.

“I’ve treated so many dogs with ear infections. We end up asking the owner, ‘is it another one or is it the same one?’ Often the reason it’s still coming back is it’s not the primary problem.”

2. Your pet’s breed: Such factors as breed and age of the animal also come into play. If a dog is going to develop allergies, they’ll usually materialize in their first two to four years, largely due to their undeveloped immune system, Dand says. “They don’t form chronic allergic reactions to things until later in their life.”

3. Bathing routine: Bathing a dog too frequently can sometimes affect their health. Dogs have a thinner protective film on their skin than humans and scrubbing that away can leave them subject to infections. Going to the groomer too often may also not be good for some dogs.

4. Food for thought: While many owners change their pet’s food as a remedy for a skin or allergy problem, food is the primary cause of an allergy only about 25 per cent of the time. However, foods that contain ingredients such as fish oils can help.

5. It only takes one: For cats, many allergies are caused by fleas, and it only takes one to cause an allergic reaction. Changing a cat’s diet can work to lessen symptoms.

Keeping your pet healthy often comes down to getting to know them really well, Dand says.

“When you learn what’s normal for your pet you’ll learn what’s abnormal, and when you see it, come and see us.”

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