Kyabram Free Press

Allergy reminder for pet owners

- By Nicole Thomson

It is allergy season once more and pet owners are reminded to be on the lookout for allergy symptoms in their furry friends.

Echuca Moama Veterinary Clinic vet Mark Wheatley has reminded owners that allergies often present differentl­y in animals than in humans.

“(Animal allergy symptoms) often aren’t the same signs that you see in humans, with nasal congestion or sneezing,” Dr Wheatley said.

“It’s more skin-related: scratching, rolling, rubbing, scooting, chewing of the feet.”

At this time of year, most allergies that pets are susceptibl­e to are environmen­tal, such as pollen or grasses, as well as dermatitis.

“It’s recommende­d to use flea prevention to prevent those sorts of allergies from occurring,” Dr Wheatley said.

He assured pet owners that although allergies could not be cured, they were treatable and manageable.

“A lot of the environmen­tal allergies that arise in spring and summer, we’re not aware of what’s specifical­ly causing it a lot of the time,” he said.

“You would need to be referred to an animal dermatolog­ist in Melbourne for specialist testing to be able to zero in on what would be the cause.

“In the last few years, we have seen improvemen­ts in how general practition­ers go about trying to alleviate environmen­tal allergies.

“In the bad old days, there was only steroid treatments, which we don’t like to use a lot.

“These days there is a monthly injection, and daily tablets to treat the allergies — we tend to go with the monthly injection and we’ve seen really good results from that.

“Allergies are something that you often have to manage, you cannot cure them.

“Most of the time it’s manageable. Sometimes we get skin infections that go along with the allergy that can complicate things, but we can treat them.”

Dr Wheatley advises pet owners to look for behavioura­l changes along with visible physical symptoms, especially unusual or increased itching.

“We tend to go on how severe the itching is,” he said.

“When owners witness an increase in itching, that’s the time to bring them in.”

“When you match that behaviour up with redness or pinkness of the skin, that can also be a sign of an allergy, but not every time. Most of the time, the skin will be inflamed and red-looking.”

Dogs and cats can both develop and have allergy issues throughout their lives, however dogs are more susceptibl­e to spring allergies than cats.

“(Staffordsh­ire terriers) for example, are high on the list, we see staffies a lot for allergies,” Dr Wheatley said

Humans and pets both have a similar flare-up period for allergies: spring and summer, with most calming down again in the cooler months.

Your pet's veterinari­an can assist in diagnosis, treatment and management of pets’ allergies, as well as the implementa­tion of flea allergies prevention and treatment.

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