Excessive Dry Skin and Shedding? Allergies Could be the Cause

All pets get itchy and scratchy now and then, but if your dog or cat always seems to be scratching and shedding like crazy, an allergy could be to blame. There are three main causes of dog and cat skin allergies, and they not only dry pets’ skin, but they can also trigger skin flaking, dull your pet’s coat, and cause excessive shedding. Treating dry skin in dogs and cats and limiting shedding is fairly easy if you first determine the source of the allergy.

Pesky Pests

Keeping your pets flea-free is essential for cat and dog health because the parasites’ saliva is a common cause of allergies in pets. According to Healthy Pets1, the allergic reaction to a bite saturated with flea saliva can make dogs and cats miserably itchy for weeks and result in hair loss, even if you successfully rid your pets and home of them. If the furry members of your family suffer from Flea Allergy Dermatitis, there are soothing shampoos formulated specifically for flea problems, along with powders and other products that will repel fleas so your pets’ skin can heal.

Food Allergies

You might expect food allergies to cause tummy trouble and, although Pet MD2 confirms that some of the symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, the majority of food allergy signs are dermatological. Redness, itching, crusty, oozing sores, flaky, scaly skin, hives, and hair loss can indicate that your pet is allergic to something in his diet. You can either try to pinpoint the offending ingredient through food elimination3 or try one of the many commercial foods available that are grain-free or contain limited ingredients to specifically address food allergies in pets.

Environmental Issues

Environmental elements such as pollen, dust, mold, and some fabrics like wool are common causes of allergies in pets. In addition to sneezing and watery eyes, environmental allergens also cause itching and shedding. Just like with humans, cat and dog health may only be seasonally affected, so you might only have to deal with the issue once or twice a year. Still, you can make your pets as comfortable as possible by keeping your home irritant-free with frequent vacuuming and dusting, and you may want to get an air purifier, too. Keep your pet clean, as well. Bathe him using a soothing shampoo such as oatmeal or an herbal formula, or wipe him down with pre-moistened pet wipes to remove allergens from his fur and skin for immediate relief.

Less Common Causes

The basic three common causes aren’t always the culprits when it comes to dry skin and shedding in pets. Other causes can be:
• reactions to medications
• hormone imbalances
• immune system issues
• over vaccinating

Even if you suspect you know why shedding and dry skin are plaguing your pet, it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian about dog and cat health.

Controlling and Alleviating Symptoms

Until you determine the cause of shedding and dry skin and get it under control, it’s still possible to alleviate your pet’s discomfort and manage the situation. Keep shedding under control by grooming him more frequently using a de-shedding tool such as the Furminator. Use a shampoo formulated to reduce shedding and/or to calm irritated skin. You’ll also find over the counter supplements at pet supply stores developed to reduce shedding and improve coat and skin health in dogs and cats.

1 http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/09/15/help-your-dog-overcome-these-common-allergies.aspx
2 http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_dg_food_reactions_dermatologic
3 http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/skin/c_ct_food_reactions_dermatologic?page=2