Al­lergy sea­son here again

Shepparton News - - WEEKEND PETS - DR FIONA CAMERON Shep­par­ton Ve­teri­nary Clinic www.shep­

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.

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