SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— It might be a tough call when it comes to normal itchiness and the kind that requires treatment in terms of your pet, but the SF SPCA has some tips on when you should seek help.

Itchiness is common in humans and pets, but Dr. Jennifer Scarlett co-president of the San Francisco SPCA said when you start to see hair loss, redness or sores, or in the event your pet is waking up in the middle of the night, then it’s probably time to start seeking help.

Typically pet owners assume that their pets’ scratching is because of fleas, but there are other causes. That’s not to say you should discount fleas, as they tend to be the culprit. In the Bay Area I find that we are in denial of our flea problem.

Other common reasons for cats and dogs to be itchy are allergies or an allergic reaction, hives or urticaria. There can also be internal problems that can cause scratching or itching.

As far as treatment goes, we’re going to back treat for fleas (even if the problem is allergies). Then we’re going to look at whether or not it’s seasonal or food related and if the animal is healthy or not. It can really vary depending on what the diagnosis is.

We know that with cats and dogs there is something called the threshold effect, meaning you can have allergies to one or two things, but they build up at certain times of the year. That’s when we see clinical signs like scratching all night.

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