886 S Pine St, PO Box 277

Grantsburg, WI 54840

Phone: (715) 463-2536

1(800) 924-0588

140 Evergreen Square SW

Pine City, MN 55063

Phone: (320) 629-7474

Scratching That Itch: What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Skin


Does your pet have an itch that they can’t seem to scratch? We see a lot of itchy dogs and cats that won’t stop licking and scratching this time of year. Pet parents often feel guilty if their pet seems tirelessly uncomfortable and when a pet excessively scratches and self-grooms, this can cause skin damage and infection.

If your kitty has extra dandruff, if your dog seems to scratch, scratch, and scratch some more, we have put together this article to help you better understand the underlying causes.

When should you bring your pet in for an exam? What is causing your pet’s skin discomfort? We have some answers for you.

Is Your Pet Just Itchy or Is There Something More Serious Going On?

It’s normal for a cat or dog to scratch a little from time to time. Some signs that it’s time to bring your pet by for us to see if there’s something deeper going on include:

  • Non-stop scratching
  • Butt scooting
  • Rubbing the face or ears
  • Chewing and biting skin and back
  • Licking or scratching until loss of fur, irritation, or scrapes
  • Flaking dry skin
  • Bald spots
  • Excessive licking of feet

What Can Cause a Pet’s Itchy Skin?

Creepy Crawlies and Parasites

Parasites are the most common cause of pet scratching, licking, and chewing. From fleas to ticks, and mites, don’t let bugs take a bite out of your beloved pet. 

The shock of being bitten by fleas often stresses a pet and causes mental distress. If your pet looks startled or cries out then scratches, she may have fleas.

If your pet seems to be targeting an area, you should check for a tick. Ticks can be tiny but are often visible to the naked eye. Grab your tweezers (or better yet, a tick lifter) and a magnifying glass and slowly get a good hold on the body of the tick close to its head and pull. Try to remove the entire tick - leaving behind part of the tick can cause future issues. If your dog or cat is on tick prevention, ticks will naturally die within about 24 hours after latching on, greatly reducing the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

As for mites, they are practically invisible. What do we mean by that? They’re microscopic. If your dog or cat has itchy ears, it could be mites.

We will happily work with you to find the right regimen for your pet’s pest protection.

Diet or Allergies

Some pets will feel itchy and chew their backs, legs, feet, and more to the point of bald patches due to a dietary allergy. Some pets also experience seasonal allergies and allergies from external factors. Did you know some dogs are even allergic to grass?

Pets can also be allergic to mold, dust, soaps, pollen, and other factors.

If your kitty has bald patches, she could be allergic to something in her diet as well.

Nervousness, Anxiety, or Boredom

These are more common than many pet parents realize. When a dog or cat is uncomfortable, bored, or stressed, they may compulsively lick and chew their feet and back. They can even develop a condition similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you think this maybe a problem, introduce some extra mental and physical stimulation to your pet’s routine. Puzzles, interactive toys, more walks, and some good old-fashioned play can help!

Dry Skin

Dry skin can be environmental or internal. Pets need fatty acids and a balanced diet for a healthy coat and skin. 

Pain or Discomfort

From splinters to a collar that’s too tight, your pet may be trying to seek some comfort from a thorn in their side, literally. If your pet is paying a lot of attention or chewing one area, give it a thorough exam to see if there’s something causing pain. Be sure to check for thorns, burrs, and splinters.

Pesticides and fertilizers can also cause a burning sensation. If you think this can be the case, immediately rinse your pet’s feet.

Some pets will also lick a paw or joint that’s sore from arthritis or from exercise.

What Can You Do to Help an Itchy Pet?

Rashes, scratching, and chewing for more than a day or so means it’s time to bring your pet by for an exam. Dermatological issues are notoriously difficult for pet parents to diagnose and treat on their own without the help of a vet.

Bringing your pet in for regular grooming can also help catch dermatological problems early on. Our groomers work alongside our veterinary team to help catch ear, skin, or coat problems.

We offer a wide range of services that can prevent the guessing game. From allergy tests to flea and tick prevention, we can calm that itchy skin and help bring your pet feel comfortable again, so make an appointment today.

Photo Credit: KruPichai


Heart Disease and Your Pet


People are not the only ones at risk for heart disease. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and even iguanas can develop heart disease. Undiagnosed and untreated heart disease can lead to heart failure and, ultimately, death. With all the news articles related to grain-free dog foods and the link to heart disease, we’re sure you’ll want to learn more.

One of the hardest aspects of our job is informing pet parents that their beloved pets are ill. This is particularly difficult when their pet’s illness is something as serious as heart disease. Once a pet has entered congestive heart failure, there’s no cure. We know this is crushing to hear.

So, what do you need to know and do to your pet’s precious heart?

Heart Disease in Dogs

Heart disease affects about 10% of dogs. That’s 7.8 million dogs in the United States. Heart disease is in dogs isn’t caused by a nibble of McDonald’s double cheeseburger or a bit of bacon every now and then. In fact, dog risk factors are quite different than those that affect people.

The Most Common Canine Heart Disease

Them most common form of heart disease found in dogs is one that most people have never even heard of: canine valvular disease. Valvular disease makes up about 75% of heart disease in dogs. Valvular disease mostly dogs affects small breed adult dogs, although it is also found in some medium and large dogs as well.

What is Valvular Disease?

Your dog’s heart is actually a lot like yours: four chambers made of muscle that pump blood through your dog’s body. Their hearts also have valves, like ours, that keep blood flowing in the right direction. When a dog develops valvular heart disease, their valves begin to break down and distort in shape, becoming less effective at keeping the blood flowing correctly. Over time, the heart has to pump more and more blood to keep up, causing it to enlarge and lose its effectiveness. After a point the heart cannot keep up, resulting in heart failure.

Other Canine Heart Diseases

One stat that continues to break our hearts is that 13% of canine heart disease could be prevented with medication. Did you guess which one we’re talking about? Heartworm disease. Other canine heart diseases include myocardial disease and dilated cardiomyopathy (which mostly affects large breed dogs at any age).

Heart Disease in Cats

Don’t believe the memes--cats, in fact, do have hearts and their feline hearts are vital to keeping them knocking your pens off coffee tables for years to come. 10% of cats suffer from heart diseases. What heart diseases can keep your kitty from living her life to the fullest?

Cats can be born with heart irregularities or develop heart disease over the course of their lives. Problems related to cat heart health include murmurs, tears, and weakening of heart valves and heart walls. All of these are dangerous and, if left undiagnosed or untreated, can cause heart failure.

Heart Disease in Other Pets

Because all pets have hearts, they’re all susceptible to heart disease and failure. The causes and risk factors may be different, but the result of undiagnosed heart disease is the same.

Heart disease is a significant health problem for ferrets and rabbits, just like cats and dogs. And heart failure also threatens the lives of reptiles, although they are less often studied.

What You Need to Know About Grain-Free Dog Food and Heart Disease

The FDA is currently investigating the connection between grain-free dog food and heart disease and has not yet reached a conclusion. While this doesn’t mean there is a proven connection between the two, the FDA did see an increase of heart disease in dogs that wouldn’t normally be prone to heart issues which may have a link between their diets so they are currently looking into it.

If you have questions about your dog’s diet, we have answers.

Signs and Symptoms of Pet Heart Disease

One of the toughest aspects of pet heart disease is that the early stages often shows no symptoms. It’s not until heart disease has progressed that many pets show signs like lethargy, trouble breathing, weight loss, a bloated belly, and coughing.

Why don’t pets show early symptoms? Their bodies are able to keep up as their heart compensate by enlarging. But this only works for so long.

This is why it is absolutely essential that you don’t skip your pet’s annual veterinary appointments. We can listen to your pet’s heart and determine if it is in good health. We can also prescribe heartworm prevention to keep your pet’s heart healthy and protected.

Often diagnosing a heart problem starts with a simple annual exam. If your pet is due for a checkup, we’ll gladly listen to her heart and check for any other signs of illness.

Photo Credit: epatrician