We are heading back into summer and with that comes the itching and scratching associated with allergies. Allergies can be a little frustrating to deal with and it can take some trial and error to work out what will help your pet. Today we pass on some tips from Dr. Eloise Bright from Love That Pet to keep your pet happy this summer.
Dogs are pretty unique in that whatever they may be allergic to, they tend to get itchy skin. Skin allergies tend to cause red, irritated areas on the skin, ear infections, hotspots, anal gland problems or an itchy bottom or most commonly, cause your dog to lick or chew at his feet.
Common causes for allergies include:
1. Contact allergies to grasses and Wandering Jew.
2. Food allergies (these tend to be year-round rather than seasonal).
3. Flea allergies (commonly around the base of the tail and often worse in summer).
4. Atopic dermatitis.
During summertime, we see an increase in dogs with atopic dermatitis and flea allergies in particular, but the reality is that many dogs are allergic to more than one thing. These dogs may have an allergy to chicken, so respond well to an elimination diet for 8 weeks, but will get a flare-up in summer because they also have a flea allergy.
You would think the simple flea would be an easy allergy to solve. Unfortunately most flea products we use still allow fleas to bite, in fact many take 8-24 hours to kill each individual fleas. For dogs that have a flea allergy, just one flea can cause scratching for up to 2 weeks, so they need a very strict flea control regime to tackle those sneaky little parasites. Some brands such as Bravecto and Nexgard will offer protection for both fleas and ticks simultaneously. You can find some more tips on how to outsmart fleas here.
For humans, if we have an allergy to pollens we tend to get hayfever. Dogs are a little different and will lick their feet, develop frequent ear infections and an itchy bottom with a pollen allergy. These allergies are the most challenging to manage, since it is rarely possible to remove the allergen entirely. The following strategies can help:
1. Wipe your dog down with a wet towel after coming indoors, pay particular attention to the bottom of your dogs feet, and make sure they stay dry.
2. Use an oatmeal shampoo like ‘Aloveen’ weekly to soothe the skin and remove any allergens from the coat.
3. If your dog has a tendency to develop dry skin or dandruff, add some fish oils to his food or soak your dog for 10 minutes in QV bath oil at the concentration on the bottle once every few days.
4. Ask your vet which antihistamines and you can use safely in your pet.
5. Another great product your vet can supply is called Cortavance. You can apply this spray once daily and it gets through the hair much more effectively than steroid creams and can provide immediate, short-term relief.
6. If your dog has greasy, smelly skin and is prone to developing hot-spots, use a weekly medicated shampoo like Malaseb that will help reduce bacteria on the skin. You might not necessarily cure the itch, but you can limit those secondary skin infections.
7. Wash any pet beds on a hot cycle in the washing machine with a very small amount of low allergen detergent once a week.
8. Vacuum any carpets weekly or consider restricting your pet’s access to the carpeted areas of the home.
Allergies are estimated to occur in 20% of pets. If you find your pet is still itchy, visit your vet and have a chat about all the different options for treating those allergies, including allergy testing, desensitising allergy ‘vaccines’ and Atopica. Happy summer, we hope it is sneeze-free for you and itch-free for your pet.