Like humans, the biggest organ of an animal’s body is the skin. And sometimes your pets have as much trouble with their skin as you do with yours, like itching. There are so many things that can cause an animal to itch: parasites (blech!), food allergies, plant allergies, shampoo allergies, dry skin and systemic disorders. Below is a quick overview of how to address or prevent your pet’s skin issues.

If your pet is having skin issues, it is important to provide them with relief as soon as possible, which should begin by working with your veterinarian who can rule out, and treat, the easy things in a routine exam. Things like parasites, a thyroid issue or the wrong shampoo can easily be remedied.  

If the easy fixes don’t work for you and your beloved furry friend, it’s time to figure out if your pet is allergic to the world around it or the food they are digesting. It is always easiest to look at food issues first. The most common food allergies in dogs are chicken and grain, so buy a no-grain food with a novel protein, like salmon, duck or deer. Make sure you’re not giving any treats that have chicken or grain in them either. Be patient as it can take up to eight weeks to see if your pet improves.   

If you and your vet have ruled out or treated parasites, thyroid issues, irritating shampoos and conducted a full food trial, then your pet may have what is known as non-food related “atopy,” which is a sensitivity to the surrounding environment (dust mites, pollens, grasses, etc.). This is the time of year when you will notice these kinds of allergies the most. 

There are some pretty intensive testing for these irritants, which does not always make sense to subject a pet to, unless you plan on keeping your pet in a plastic bubble to protect them against dust mites or grass or air. So I suggest you not focus on which allergy it is as much as how to make your pet more comfortable by treatment.

There’s a number of medications available, if your veterinarian recommends them, which can aid in that comfort as well as fatty acid supplements, and bathing with soothing ingredients, including aloe. You should work with your veterinarian to determine the best treatment, though.  


My name is Dusty, not because I have a dust allergy. Actually, I don’t have any allergies that I know of. I’m not even 1, but I have lived the homeless life. In my short time, I’ve determined homelessness is definitely not for me. My buddy and I were abandoned at the Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray, but the nice folks there knew we were destined for better lives and brought us to Second Chance.

I enjoy other cats, but I affectionately adore people, hence why I failed as a homeless cat. I am calm, gentle, loving and believe that I have a significant purpose to fulfill in my lifetime. Help me fulfill my life’s purpose — adopt me today! 

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties.  Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other programs.  View our shelter pets and services online: