Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pet Talk

Allergies behind seasonal pet scratching

May 18, 2006

While I was tending to an emergency Saturday afternoon, my wife was letting our resident dog, Toshie, out to do her necessities. After the dog returned and was watered, fed and loved, my wife joined me to assist in sewing up our patient's laceration. Just as we were finishing up and brought Toshie back in, my wife noticed the dog had quicklyhewed a raw place on her backside.

I was amazed at how quickly the acute allergic episode occurred and began to devise a treatment plan. We knew Toshie had allergies, but this was a very severe onset of what many dogs are afflicted by from season to season.

While many of us hail the coming of spring as akin to a new birth or salvation experience form the drags of winter, some animals -- as well as humans -- are just beginning a seasonal affliction of the affects of allergies. Allergies in the canine as well as the feline are classified as inhalant (atopy), contact or as parasitic caused by fleas and mites. Food can also cause signs of allergy, but we will not discuss at this time, as they are year round. Most of the allergy cases veterinarians see commonly are of the inhalant type or the "atopic allergy."

Springtime comes with the release of literally billions of pollens, spores and molds in the air, that when inhaled cause our pets to itch (very few animals sneeze and wheeze).

Today, I smirked as we drove home after seeing a dog riding in a truck with his head cocked out the window. This pooch was breathing inn accelerated dose of air-borne allergens. I thought also if the dog were allergic, he would soon be suffering the effects of his joy ride.

Physiologically, after the allergic dog or cat is sensitized to an air borne allergen, the body reacts mainly on the skin surface with release of chemicals, mainly histamines, which in turn cause an itching sensation. Once itching begins, any part of the body might be affected, but primarily the pet will itch and chew at the face, feet, groin, ears, and eyes.

Because they don't know when to quit, or reach for the calamine lotion, the skin becomes very red and inflamed. It can become infected if the itching breaks the skin surface. This is a very vicious cycle and an attempt needs to be made to break the cycle and bring relief and control to the pet.

The hallmark of treating allergic dogs in truly to act as soon as possible to control the urge to scratch and self-mutilate their skin. Very mild signs might be controlled by use of antihistamines and bathing the pet with oatmeal-based shampoos. For more severe cases, a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

There, the vet can determine the proper care in each case. By all means, if you think your dog or cat has allergies, call your veterinarian and discuss the problem with them. Symptomatic treatment may be ongoing and in some cases only seasonal for that pet.

Recently, the use of a diet that incorporates high doses of omega-3 fatty acids and simple proteins, such as fish, duck and potato are also showing promise in overall control of atopic allergies. Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oils) are powerful natural anti-inflammatory agents. These fatty acid really enrich the overall health of the pet's skin and haircoat.

If you have an allergic pet, you have a potentially long-term maintenance problem. With timely therapy, occasional bathing and dietary control, one can make the allergic pet more comfortable and happy.

Once again, do not delay getting help for the allergic pet as they do not know when to quit scratching. This season has started as usual, and our clinic has seen many cases of allergic pets. Give your four-legged friends the relief they need today when they come down with that pesky itch.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.