Skin Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Is your furry little friend scratching or chewing itself? There are many possible causes for itchy skin including fleas, mites and bacterial infections. Another very common cause is skin allergies. An allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system to an allergen, which can be anything from food to dust and pollen. Essentially, it is the immune system being a ‘drama queen’!
Pets can develop skin allergies to:
• Allergens in the environment that your pet comes into contact with, such as plants or carpet mites, products such as shampoos and airborne allergens such as pollens and dust.
• Various foods, including common foods that the pet has been given before such as meat, cereals and vegetables.
• Fleas – Aside from the usual itchiness caused by fleas, certain pets will have an abnormally intense reaction to flea saliva.
Contact allergies often cause itchiness of the feet, belly, muzzle, ears and around the eyes. Food allergies often shows on the face and the flea allergy usually causes problems around the lower back. In addition to the allergy, bugs such as bacteria and yeasts can infect the area.
The first step towards treatment is to take your pet to the vet. The vet will treat any secondary infections with antibiotics and shampoos. Flea control will be prescribed, and steroids may be dispensed to control the itching in the short term, but these are not always the best long-term option due to side effects. There are blood tests and skin tests that can determine what your pet is allergic to. Once the allergens are found, strategies may be employed to avoid them, for example, dietary changes. If they are unavoidable, vaccines can be developed to desensitize your pet. This can be a long process but it is fairly safe and often effective.
If Rover or Lucky spend most of the day scratching, your vet can help him or her have an itch-free life….. so make an appointment soon!
Does your pet suffer from allergies? Do you think vaccines are the best option? Share your pets own personal experience and your opinion on the best treatment for pet allergies.