Does your pet start scratching at this time of year? Lick and chew their feet non-stop? Or develop skin infections, bottom itching or ear problems?
The start of Summer/Autumn also marks the start of allergy season, and unfortunately seasonal allergies are very common in pets, especially dogs.
Pets actually have very sensitive skin. At only half the thickness of human skin, they are incredibly sensitive to environmental allergens. When humans have allergies, we tend to get hayfever, with runny eyes, a blocked nose and signs in our upper airways. Pets are a little different; no matter what they are allergic to, whether it’s something in their diet or perhaps pollens or fleas, they tend to get itchy… very itchy! For many of our furry friends, the only sign of their discomfort is that they lick their feet or scratch – a lot.
Pets that are allergic to grasses tend to lick their feet and develop redness on the tummy, where they contact the surface they are allergic to. Contact allergies are worse when there is lots of rain and sunshine and the plants are in their fast phase of growth. If you suspect your cat or dog has this type of allergy, keep your pet off grass/plants for 2 weeks and the symptoms should improve, so long as there is no skin infection present. Other tips include:
-wipe down your pet with a wet towel after coming in from outside, paying particular attention to the area on the underside of the paws. Dry well afterwards.
-Use a weekly oatmeal shampoo
One of the most common allergies is the flea allergy – especially during warmer months of the year. Flea allergy develops in response to the saliva the flea injects onto the skin during feeding and is so severe that one flea bite can keep your pet itching for 2 weeks.
Often fleas are overlooked as a cause of allergies, as pets with flea allergies don’t always have visible fleas. Flea control treatment is the best and most effective way to eliminate this problem. We recommend topical treatments such as Revolution or Advantage Plus.
Interestingly, pets that have food allergies might not necessarily develop a stomach upset or diarrhea. They just get itchy and lick their paws. Contrary to popular opinion, dogs don’t tend to develop gluten or grain allergies. They tend to be allergic to a meat protein such as chicken, beef, or lamb. This allergy develops over time, which means your pet may be okay eating something for several years before symptoms begin to appear.
If your vet suspects a food allergy, a diet trial for a minimum of 8 weeks is recommended, and commonly a prescription diet like Hills Z/D or Royal Canin Hypoallergenic is recommended. It is important to consult your vet to ensure the best possible results to treatment.
Atopic dermatitis can be one of the most difficult types of allergies to diagnose and treat in pets. Essentially, it is a blanket term for all those other things that can cause itching in cats and dogs. This group of things commonly includes dust mites, pollens, molds and other environmental allergens that are harder to eliminate in your pet’s world.
To treat atopic dermatitis often requires a combination of solutions and trial-and-error. Allergy blood testing is available, immuno-therapy can be used to desensitize your pet, and various medications including prednisone, antihistamines and cyclosporine can help to suppress the signs. We find a combination of omega 3 fatty acids and medication is a very useful treatment for some pets.
If your pet suffers from itchy skin, frequent ear infections, smelly skin or licks his feet, book in an appointment and we can discuss the various diagnosing and treatment options available to help!