Second Chance: Itchy & Scratchy

Second Chance: Itchy & Scratchy

In the human body, the biggest organ is the skin. The biggest organ of a dog or cat body is??? Don’t say fur! It’s the skin as well. And sometimes they have as much trouble with their skin as we do with ours. Like itching.




There are so many things 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 and that should begin by working with your veterinarian who can rule out the easy things in a routine exam — or treat them. 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 his food.

It is always easiest to look at food issues first.

The most common food allergies in dogs are to chicken and grain. So buy a no-grain food with a novel protein (like salmon or duck or deer). Make sure you’re not giving any treats that have chicken or grain in them either. It can take up to 8 weeks to determine if your pet improves, so patience is a must! If this approach fails, default to a prescription hydrolyzed protein food and see if the itching subsides.

If you and your vet have ruled out or treated parasites, thyroid issues, irritating shampoos, and conducted a full food trial — then your animal may have what is known as non-food related “atopy,” which is just a sensitivity to the surrounding environment: dust mites, pollens, grasses, etc.

There is some pretty intensive testing for this affliction, but it does not makes sense to subject a pet to such procedures unless you plan on keeping your pet in a plastic bubble (to protect against dust mites or grass or air).  Instead, focus on making the animal more comfortable through treatment.

There’s a number of medications available that can aid in that comfort such as antihistamines (like Benedryl), steroids or cyclosporine (to dampen the hyperactive immune systems response), fatty acid supplements, and bathing with soothing ingredients including aloe. A newer drug called adoquel, which comes at allergies in a completely different way, has shown potential to provide many dogs comfort as well.

And this week’s dog of the week is Zorro, a one-year-old very friendly loyal happy Australian Cattle Dog who is great with other dogs and, as one would suspect with this breed, would make a very loyal family member and hiking or walking companion. A smart little bugger with a great temperament and non-itching skin, this heart-stealing bandit is ready for adoption today.



Oreo is the cat of the week, also only one year of age. Oreo raised her babies at the Second Chance Shelter and they have all been adopted so now she is ready for her turn. Oreo was a great mom, very calm and sweet (hence the name).

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & friend

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but 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 the shelter pets and services online:

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