Nobody likes to see their pet uncomfortable. Itching and scratching is one of most common reasons for a pet parent to book an appointment. Sometimes itching can be explained by a parasite (like mange) or a skin infection, but sometimes dogs and cats develop allergies. Knowing how to handle pet allergies can prevent hot spots and keep them happy for years and spring times to come.
The most common allergen for dogs and cats is fleas. In a pet that is allergic, one bite can make them itch for 6 weeks! I tell people to think of pets and fleas like people and poison ivy. We all know that person who could roll around in a patch of poison oak in their birthday suit and walk away unscathed. We also know someone who looks at the same vine from a distance of 10 feet and develops a head to toe rash. If your pet is itchy, especially right at the base of their tail, flea allergies are the most common cause. Some veterinary dermatologists refuse to see an itchy pet that has not been on strict flea control for 3 months. Even indoor only cats, dogs that only go out to potty, and pets in the winter can develop symptoms of flea allergies. It only takes one.
Symptoms of food allergies are typically present year round. When diagnosing allergies, we typically work with food at the same time or after eliminating fleas as the source of the itching. While grains get all of the press, dogs and cats are more likely to be allergic to chicken or beef. When testing for allergies, we remove the allergen from their diet 100% for 8 weeks. It takes that long to even start to see a difference. If they get into the trash, sweet talk the delivery driver, or are fed by a toddler, the 8 week clock starts all over. Allergens can be avoided by feeding a commercially available food that does not contain those ingredients or a hydrolyzed protein diet, which breaks the protein down to such a small piece that the body cannot recognize it.
3. Pollen, Dust and Other Environmental Factors
Like people, pets can be allergic to anything in their environment. The gold standard to diagnose allergies to things like pollen, mold, and dust mites is the scratch test commonly performed on people. Some pets even respond well to immunotherapy allergy shots. These tests are performed by a dermatologist who then creates the allergy shot cocktail. Other therapies are aimed at minimizing the allergic reaction and the pet’s symptoms.
Allergies in pets can be as difficult to treat as those in humans, but at Pet’s Favorite Vet we work hard to keep your pet comfortable while fitting your budget. We can develop custom food recipes, prescribe medications, and work with herbal formulas to help beat the itch.
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The staff at Pet’s Favorite Vet in Boiling Springs is committed to providing area pets and pet owners the finest veterinary care. We strive to be a welcoming and cost-conscious health care partner for your beloved companion.