What is your pet’s skin telling you?

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

Al­ler­gies are a com­mon cause of skin prob­lems and cause a range of symp­toms. Flea al­ler­gic der­mati­tis (FAD) and atopy (al­lergy to air­borne en­vi­ron­men­tal al­ler­gens) are the most com­mon al­ler­gies in pets and food al­ler­gies are less com­mon.

Cer­tain breeds or in­di­vid­u­als may be ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to de­velop al­ler­gies - Shar Peis, Labradors, Staffies and Bull­dogs are among breeds more prone to al­ler­gies. Symp­toms are vari­able and may in­clude itch­ing, a smell which is as­so­ci­ated with sec­ondary bac­te­rial and yeast in­fec­tions and gas­troin­testi­nal up­sets with vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhoea or flat­u­lence.

Flea al­ler­gic der­mati­tis is caused by an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to the pro­teins in flea saliva and causes in­tense itch­ing above the tail base, back legs and ab­domen

In ad­di­tion to treat­ing the symp­toms, ex­cel­lent flea con­trol is the cor­ner­stone of con­trol­ling FAD – one flea bite a month can trig­ger the al­ler­gic re­sponse in some pets. There are some ex­cel­lent new op­tions avail­able for flea con­trol; it is im­per­a­tive that all pets in the house­hold are treated and it is also im­por­tant to treat the en­vi­ron­ment and bed­ding for fleas.

En­vi­ron­men­tal al­ler­gies tend to have an early age on­set (typ­i­cally 1-3 years) and can man­i­fest by itch­ing around the face, front of chest and ab­domen and chew­ing at the front paws. Dust mites, pol­lens, grasses, moulds and an­i­mal dan­der (bits of skin or hair) are com­mon en­vi­ron­men­tal al­ler­gens. Reg­u­lar vac­u­um­ing can re­duce dust mites. Lim­it­ing ex­po­sure to cer­tain plants and avoid­ing long or newly mown grass can be very ben­e­fi­cial as can wash­ing off with tap wa­ter af­ter a walk (make sure to do the paws). Some plant al­ler­gies will be sea­sonal. Skin test­ing is avail­able to iden­tify spe­cific al­ler­gies. Treat­ment of atopy in­cludes treat­ing the itch, re­mov­ing or avoid­ing the source of al­ler­gens and de­sen­si­ti­za­tion in­jec­tions. There are spe­cific pre­scrip­tion di­ets avail­able to sup­port atopic dogs.

Di­etary al­ler­gies can de­velop at any age and man­i­fest with gas­troin­testi­nal signs and/or itch­ing and ear prob­lems. Dogs can de­velop al­ler­gies to a wide range of food sources. The only way to prove a food al­lergy is to feed an ex­clu­sion diet (a food source the dog has not been ex­posed to) or a hy­drol­ysed diet for 12 weeks. A range of ex­clu­sion di­ets and hy­drolyzed di­ets are avail­able to treat food al­ler­gies and would be dis­cussed by your Vet if in­di­cated.

If you see a sig­nif­i­cant change in your pet’s skin or coat, ev­i­dence of par­a­sites or open sores and signs of in­fec­tion or if you have any con­cerns it’s time to visit us for a COM­PLI­MEN­TARY* skin and coat health check with one of our nurses. Pi­tama Rd Vet Hospi­tal, 1 Pi­tama Road, Awa­puni 06 357 9993 Hokowhitu Vil­lage Vet, 186 Te Awe Awe Street 06 356 9993

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