If your dog has a persistent itch that makes them scratch or chew themselves, a visit to your veterinarian will help narrow down the cause and get them started on a safe and effective anti-itch medication. Sometimes your vet will prescribe multiple medications together to both ease your dog’s itchiness and address the root cause of your dog’s skin condition. But what if you’re still seeing your dog itching after they’ve started an anti-itch medication? Or you notice that they’re itching again when their medication had been previously working well?
There are a few reasons this could be happening — different “flare factors” can increase your dog’s itching despite being on previously-effective medication. A flare factor is a condition that causes dramatic worsening of itching or skin inflammation that was previously under control. These factors include fleas, staph (bacteria) or yeast (fungal) infections, and food allergies. If you’re noticing an increase in your dog’s scratching, they may have developed one or more of these flare factors that are pushing them over their “itch threshold” despite being on anti-itch medication.
The reason for the flare-up in your dog’s scratching needs to be addressed – whether it’s getting back on track with a flea preventative, a prescription treatment for the bacterial or fungal skin infection, or a vet-monitored food trial to determine any food allergies that your dog might have developed. Your dog’s immune system can only handle so much, and a combination of these factors can push your dog over their “itch limit” and can make them uncomfortable.
Dogs with environmental allergies (known as atopic dermatitis) can benefit greatly from the following proactive treatments and management[2,3]:
By taking some steps to prevent flare factors, your dog’s regular anti-itch medication will work more effectively, and your dog will be more comfortable.