Its spring…YAY ! The dreaded cold weather is almost over! The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the grass is growing high!. But you know what that means………the dreaded pollen and dust that will be floating in the air! Can you feel your hay fever coming along? Are you reaching for the Zyrtec? Did you know just like us dogs and cats can have allergies to spring? Well… not all of spring! Warmer spring days tempt us humans to spend time outside enjoying the sunshine and often taking our dogs too, who absolutely love rolling, and frolicking in the long grass and sniffing the flowers that a hundred other dogs have sniffed before. But….Just like us, our pets can develop environmental allergies. Although dogs don’t get watery eyes and sneeze a billion times, they instead get terribly itchy.
Allergic reactions in our furry companions are often characterised by skin problems which is then exacerbated by their primary symptoms – itching and scratching. Our furry companions can itch for many reasons and sometimes for no reason at all. Some scratching is normal but when a dog is continuously licking, scratching, biting and chewing to the point of traumatising the skin, is when we need to intervene. Did you know itchy skin is the second most common reason why people take their dogs to the vet? (Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea being the number one).
Why does my pet itch and scratch:
Cat and dog skin allergies fall into three main categories: flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), environmental allergies and food allergies. We are going to concentrate on environmental allergies in this blog but to read about FAD or food allergies check out our ‘Allergies’ handout link
Environmental allergy or in vet speak “ Atopy” is an allergic reaction to airborne substances like pollen, moulds, household dust, mites and animal dander ( skin or hair fragments). Our doggy fur-babies are most likely affected but it can be seen in some cats.
What are the symptoms:
Dogs that may have an environmental allergy often present with the following symptoms:
- Itchy – mostly around the face, feet, lower chest and belly
- Licking or chewing at themselves
- Hair loss
- Red, inflamed skin
- Sores or scabs over skin
- Moist open wounds
It can be difficult to tell exactly what your furry companion may be allergic to. A process of elimination is the first step. Other causes of itching, such as fleas, mites, lice, bacterial and yeast infections as well as food allergies must be ruled out first.
Environmental allergies can be extremely unpleasant for your dog and can also be difficult for everyone else in the family. Unfortunately it can be a lifelong condition as there is no known cure. The good news is there are a number of things our lovely team of veterinarians can recommend for your pooch or kitty that can help manage the problem. These things can include:
- Antibiotic and antihistamine medication
- Apoquel – anti itch medication
- Soothing shampoos & moisturisers
- Adding omega fatty acids to your pets diets
- Changing your pets diet to a prescription diet such as Hills z/d ,Hills Sensitive skin or Hills Derm Defence. See our clinic Allergy management handout for more details on the above options. Link.
So if you want your furkids to enjoy the spring time frolicking in the grass and sniffing the flowers be sure to keep an eye on their skin. If they start to scratch or itch more then normal, you’re more then welcome to call us at the clinic for some advice.
Ps. For something cute – check our this ‘itchy dance’ video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95nxqzQ17tY