Allergy season here again
My nose is red and the run has started again — yes, it is allergy season in Shepparton.
Many people suffer with sneezing and itchy eyes for a couple of months every year. Your dog can also suffer from a runny nose which they impolitely snort by what is called reverse sneezing.
However, allergies in pets are more commonly expressed in their skin because they have more mast cells there compared to us. The dreaded itches! They constantly scratch, chew or rub themselves, driving them and their owners nuts. They traumatise the skin so much that the hair falls out and their skin becomes infected and oozes, forming matts in the coat.
Cats often over-groom, resulting in a moth-eaten appearance or are covered in little scabs, and may have more hairball issues.
It’s called atopy, which is an inherited predisposition to allergies.
The most common allergy in pets is the AEea allergy. This is the easiest one to treat as there are some excellent products now available that are so easy to use. The problem, however, is convincing the owner that the AEea is the root of the problem.
These itchy pets are not crawling with AEeas often because they are so meticulous in their grooming behaviours that they have killed and eaten any crawling critter as soon as it bit them. Plus, the owners have washed and washed the smelly dog (or cat) numerous times and have removed any remaining evidence of AEea dirt (digested blood that they excrete).
The AEea-bag housemate is often the source of infestation, but if that one does not have allergies, it lives quite happily with its load of AEeas. This is why all animals on the property need to be treated and the owners of itchy pets need to be paranoid about AEeas. Speak to your vet for the best advice.
Other allergy suspects are harder to deal with because you can’t remove grass pollens or house dust mites or mould spores from the environment. But we can do tests that can determine the causes of the problem and have desensitisation vaccines made up that work really well in a third of atopic pets.
The remaining itchy pets are managed by regular bathing in special shampoos and enriched diets. Antihistamines and anti-itch medications sometimes help.
Until recently steroids were our main choice, but with their nasty long-term side effects and reducing effectiveness, over time an alternative has been developed. The new drug is amazing in stopping the itch quickly and without side effects (apart from a lighter wallet).
Like so many conditions, treating and managing allergies early gets a much quicker resolution and stops a lot of secondary problems brought on by the self trauma. Let’s enjoy the magic of spring and hope the allergy season is mild for both our human and pet population.