Spring has sprung! Pollen is in the air, and as the temperatures rise, many dogs and cats begin to itch and suffer from skin infections, hair loss, and anxiety. Why… Pet Allergies. A lifelong problem that is frustrating and costly for pet owners.
Allergic dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that occurs after exposure to an allergen. An allergen is something to which the body is allergic. The number-one sign of allergies in pets is itching. Dogs lick, bite, chew and scratch themselves to the point of self-mutilation. The result is red, raw areas of skin with oozing sores and hair loss. The difficulty that vets face is isolating the allergen responsible for the reaction because in many cases there is usually more than one substance involved.
Types of Pet Allergies
- Fleas are the number one cause of allergies in dogs and cats. Over half of all canine and feline allergies are due to fleas. Pets are actually allergic to a protein component of the flea saliva. One fleabite in these dogs and/or cats can cause intense itching lasting up to 14 days.
- Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis is also referred to as Atopic Dermatitis and/or Atopy. These terms are used for allergies that develop in response to inhaled particles. Inhaled allergens, like house dust, mold and pollen, are the second most common type of allergy in dogs. These allergies start at a younger age in dogs and some breeds seem to be more prone, such as west highland white terriers and sharpeis.
- Food allergies account for 10-20 percent of canine allergies. Skin infections (Dermatitis) are the primary sign.
TIP: Identifying the source of an allergy can be tough. Dog bedding that contains cedar chips or other scented material can be responsible.
How Can Vets Help with Pet Itching & Pet Allergies?
- Intradermal skin testing is the most accurate method available to figure out what’s causing the dog’s allergy. Small amounts of different substances called allergens are injected into the skin. If the dog is allergic to one of the substances, the skin reacts by getting red and swollen at the injection site within 15 to 30 minutes. Once you know what the dog is allergic to, it may be possible to avoid it, for example, beds with cedar chips.
TIP: An elimination diet is used to diagnose the offending dietary ingredient in a food allergy.
When a food allergy is suspected, an elimination diet is most effective to detect the offensive food. Hypoallergenic diets are indicated once the diagnosis is confirmed.
- Hyposensitization is the best treatment option for allergies like pollen and mold that cannot be avoided. Hyposensitization involves giving small amounts of the actual allergen to your pet either orally or by injection. The allergens are given in increasing increments weekly or biweekly. The goal is to stimulate the body to become immune or less sensitive to the allergen.
- High doses of Vitamin C can help reduce itching and antibiotics may be indicated to treat secondary bacterial infections. Bathing with hypoallergenic oatmeal-based shampoos and using leave-on after-shampoos moisturizers with aloe vera and alpha keri help decrease skin irritation. Omega 3, 6 fatty acid supplements found in fish oil, along with Zinc and the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and Vitamin E with bioflavonoids help improve dry, flaky skin and hair coats.
- Look for comprehensive, broad spectrum, proven pet vitamin supplements like PAAWS Plus and PAAWS Dog Vitamins that contain balanced anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to relieve itching and dry skin.
- For ongoing flea problems, monthly flea products available through your vet are the safest and most effective way to prevent flea infestations.
Complementary Pet Allergies Treatments
Homeopathic Pet Remedies
A range of homeopathic remedies may be useful which include Sulphur, Hepar Sulph, Arsenica alb, and Rhus tax. Dosages range from 30c to 1m. Acupuncture stimulates the immune system and generally requires six to eight treatments for effective results.
Herbal Pet Remedy’s
Pet Herbs for topical use:
- Witch Hazel
- Oregon Grape
Chinese Pet Herbals that may be useful include:
Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty-plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterward, she launched a very successful private practice and became the founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments. Currently, she offers holistic therapies and traditional veterinary medical care for dogs and cats at the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.