What is your pet’s skin telling you?
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