For The Love Of Animals

by 78209 Magazine | March 1, 2022 | Love of Animals

Allergies: Why Spring May Bring More Than Warm Weather

By Dr. Nichole D’Intino, Veterinarian Partner, City Vet

Do you have a pet that is constantly itching? If so, you’ve probably wondered if your furry friend could have allergies.

Unfortunately, allergies are quite common in dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats. Environmental allergens, such as pollen and molds, are the most common culprit for allergies. These allergens enter through the skin barrier and cause an intense itching sensation that can be downright miserable, a condition known as atopic dermatitis. The scratching and itching can lead to red, swollen, and irritated skin and even infections of the ears and skin. It is important to point out that there are other conditions that can cause your pet to be severely itchy such as parasites or endocrine disorders. Your veterinarian can partner with you to help find the root cause of the itching in your pet. 

So, you think your pet may have allergies, now what? A trip to your local veterinarian for a full physical exam is the best place to start. Your veterinarian may ask you some questions about your pet’s environment, food, medications, and when the last time they had blood work performed. Often itchy pets have more than one condition contributing to their skin troubles, and a thorough evaluation from your veterinarian will help. While there is no specific test to determine if your pet has atopic dermatitis, some testing may be performed to rule out other causes of itching. 

If your pet has been diagnosed with allergies, you may be anxious to find some relief for them. In recent years there have been many new developments surrounding canine and feline dermatology, including medications that stop the itch sensation at the cellular level. These medications work very quickly to address the itching, giving you and your veterinarian time to address the underlying cause and making your pet feel relief sooner. 

Providing your pet relief from allergies takes a holistic approach; there is not a one size fits all treatment plan. After treating any concurrent infections and controlling the itch, the next step is to help reduce inflammation. Inflammation can be reduced by using medications or supplements in combination with allergy treatments. Other options include immunotherapy and immune-modulating therapies that change the immune system’s response to allergens.

Here are some changes you can make to help reduce the number of allergens your pet is exposed to: 

-Minimize flowering houseplants. 

-Give your pet a bath weekly with an oatmeal-based shampoo to help remove allergens from their fur. Be sure to use water that is just warm to the touch and allow them to air dry to prevent their skin from further drying out. 

-Wash their bedding and stuffed toys regularly; this will help with dust mites. 

-Use an air filter system in the home. 

-Regular grooming to help keep the skin clean and healthy. 

-Use high-quality flea and tick prevention all year long.

Just like our allergies, your pet’s allergies will need to be managed throughout their life, and flare-ups will happen from time to time. Prompt treatment can help clear these flare-ups as quickly as possible. As a veterinarian, I know that seeing your pets uncomfortable from itching can be extremely frustrating. It is your veterinarians’ goal to be a source of information and help guide you in making the best treatment decisions for your pet. If the current treatments are not providing enough relief, you may be offered a referral to a veterinary dermatologist for further testing and treatment options. 

City Vet- Alamo Heights

5421 Broadway St. | (210)-742-5900

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