Quit That Itch – need to knows

Ever felt you are just scratching the surface of what you need to know about itchy dogs? We asked vets and vet nurses and some owners of itchy dogs to share their experiences. The results were pretty surprising…


Ever felt you are just scratching the surface of what you need to know about itchy dogs? We asked vets and vet nurses and some owners of itchy dogs to share their experiences. The results were pretty surprising…


A chronic condition…

  • Our vet audience said that 79% of cases tended to be moderately affected at first presentation. But 37% of dog owners felt their dog’s condition was severe. This is clearly a condition that often becomes chronic. In fact 70% of our dog owners said their dog had been itchy for more than a year.
  • 50% of owners waited between one and three months before presenting their itchy dog for treatment and 30% waited for up to a month – time when the itch-scratch cycle can quickly become established and worsen.


Seasonal trends

  • There were big discrepancies over the season that itchy dogs were most affected by their condition. Forty three per cent of veterinary professionals would expect to see most itchy dogs presented to the practice in the spring, 29% would expect to see most in the summer and 24% would expect no seasonal pattern.
  • In contrast, 63% of owners of itchy dogs say there is no seasonal pattern to their dog’s itch or that it is present all year round. While 21% said their dog was itchier in the summer, only 13% said spring was the season that caused most problems.
  • This could suggest that there is a large number of dogs that are affected all year round and may not always be presented for their itch and that spring might not be the worst season for the majority of itchy dogs and the ones we see are the tip of a large iceberg.


The emotional impact

  • While 99% of our veterinary respondents felt that itching reduced a dog’s quality of life, just 57% of owners thought that was the case. This may be because vets are seeing the worst affected dogs or that owners are unaware of how badly an itch could affect their dog.
  • There was further evidence that veterinary teams were seeing the worst affected dogs as 49% of vets thought owners were distressed or upset at the cost of their pet’s treatment for itching. In fact, 23% of owners put themselves in this category, which is still significant but many fewer than vets thought.
  • Some 35% of owners said they were not upset about the cost of treatment. So cost is clearly an issue for some but its impact may be over-estimated. It could also be the case, of course, that only as a dog becomes very badly affected and seen more frequently by a vet, does cost become an issue of increasing concern.
  • A notable 52% of owners agreed that they were worried that others would judge the appearance of their itchy pet and believe that they were neglectful owners. Veterinary professionals have also picked up on this concern, with 95% saying that owners were worried about this.  For some owners (29%) there was upset and even distress about the effects of the itch on the general appearance of their pet (independent of worries about what other people would think) – meaning that people are more likely to be emotionally affected by changes in the appearance of a pet than over the cost of treatment.


How it’s treated…

  • Finally, nutraceuticals were in our vets top four treatments for itchy skin (after flea treatment, special diet and medication).
  • Nutraceuticals were in the top five for pet owners who put baths as their number one most effective intervention. This suggests that perhaps that mild itching is being addressed by owners largely by bathing the pet – and there was a real match here with 61% of vets recommending bathing and 59% of owners giving baths.
  • Nutraceuticals are routinely recommended by 84% of vets for itchy dogs but just 38% of our respondents said they gave their itchy pet a nutraceutical, which was the widest disparity between what vets recommended and pet owners do, suggesting that there is a lot of scope to educate owners on the benefits.


What you said…

Vet nurse comment: My own dog is atopic. Lintbells YuMEGA Itchy Dog with spot on and diet management are the only things that help as he’s sensitive to all atopic medications!

Vet comment: Always continue a long-term skin maintenance plan and regular rechecks, don’t let owners think it’s ok to discontinue treatment and then come back when it flares again, treat it as a single chronic condition.

Vet comment: We run “skin clubs” by the nurses to discuss and but not limited to: YuMEGA supplements, an allergenic diet trial, medicated shampoo, allergy testing. We also discuss current treatments- how well they are bathing, cleaning ears etc.

To discuss the results in more detail or make a comment please contact your Lintbells Veterinary Business Development Executive.