Is your pet scratching a lot lately? Warm weather, winds and pollen in the air is something we humans and pets dread. Allergy season.Watery eyes, scratching, licking and biting all over and sneezing are symptoms that are very uncomfortable for our pets! They can also lead to other ailments if left untreated. Excessive scratching isn’t the only sign of an allergic condition, but it’s the most common. Itching can also indicate a number of other issues.Pets with allergies also often have problems with their ears – especially K9’s. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed as part of a generalized allergic response, or they may grow infected with yeast or bacteria.
Signs your pet’s ears are giving him problems include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odor and a discharge from the ears.The following information may help you understand why your pet is extremely itchy and what you can do about it:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea bite dermatitis is the most common allergy in pets. When a flea bites our frisky feline and faithful canine, a small amount of its saliva is released into their skin.
Signs and Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis
While non-allergic cats and dogs experience little or no irritation from a flea bite, those that are allergic suffer intense itching and irritation – sometimes for days – at the bite site. This occurs with even a single bite. Bites may become red or inflamed, but the most significant signs and symptoms are usually self-inflicted. Your pet is likely to chew, lick or scratch excessively at bites, often causing localized hair loss, scabbing or sores. The presence of fleas, flea eggs or flea feces along with these symptoms makes this a likely diagnosis.
Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas. Talk to your veterinarian about the best flea control products for your pets. Keep your fur babies on a monthly flea preventative schedule. They will be truly grateful!
Environmental allergies are also called seasonal allergies, airborne allergies, inhalant allergies, and atopic dermatitis. Exposure to allergens occurs through inhalation. Common irritants include dust mites, mold, mildew, and pollens from grass, trees and weeds. Pollens cause seasonal allergies.
Signs and Symptoms of Environmental Allergies
Our pets are more likely to develop severe body-wide itching as the primary symptom. Excessive scratching, licking and biting can cause hair loss, injuries and infections. Inflamed ears and ear infections also occur, especially in dogs. Hayfever symptoms, such as puffy or watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing, are occasionally present, too.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Chemicals that come into contact with your cat or dog’s skin are the problem allergens. Those found in or on detergents, soaps, shampoos, carpets, synthetic fibers, wool, leather, paint, petroleum, rubber, plastic and insecticides are common problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Significant itching is the main symptom of contact allergies. Redness and irritation are likely to occur on and around the site of contact. Self-inflicted complications such as hair loss, sores, scabbing and hot spots are often seen.
Diagnosing Allergies in Cats and Dogs
The signs observed by your veterinarian while checking your pet’s skin, eyes, and ears provide important clues as to whether your cat or dog is experiencing a flea, food, environmental or contact allergy. Your information helps tremendously too! Food allergies are diagnosed with an elimination diet trial. Your veterinarian will advise you on feeding your pet a limited antigen hypoallergenic diet, usually for two to three months. Then, suspected foods are gradually reintroduced. You monitor your pet closely, watching for the return of allergic symptoms.
Treating Allergies in Pets
Preventing exposure to allergens is key to managing your pet’s allergies. Prescribed medication often help control symptoms, while specially formulated shampoos or other topical therapies minimize itchiness and reduce excessive scratching. Consult with your veterinarian to see what the best treatment would be.
In the last couple of weeks, we have had so many calls from PAH pet parents making appointments to see a Dr. Their main concern is their pet scratching like crazy, sneezing and biting/chewing on themselves and/or head shaking and smelly ears. It can happen that quickly. If your pet has one of these symptoms, please don’t ignore them. Your furry pals will be extremely happy once they visit their vet and get diagnosed and treated!
Dogs and cats are curious by nature, particularly when it comes to food. As cute as they may be, though, our pets can’t always stomach the same foods as us — some food can be toxic and even deadly to their health. Dogs will put almost anything in their mouths. Unfortunately, this means they are prone to swallowing poisonous materials. If you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous, get them to your veterinarian immediately.
It’s hard for us pet owners not to share our food with our pets. Their eyes are fixed on you and the item you have. Whining, pawing and licking their chops are to remind you that you need to share. You finally give in and give your pet just a little bit of the food you are eating. This goes on about 3-4 times not realizing that the food you are giving your pet may affect their stomach. Here are just a few items that are a big no-no to give to our pets, or they accidentally get into:
- Coffee/caffeine (coffee grounds)
- Coconut; the latest craze – coconut oil
- Milk and dairy
- Salty snacks
- Candy – can also be breath mints
Yeast dough…….and the list goes on. There are also toxic plants, chemicals used on our lawns and gardens, rat bait and insecticides.When in doubt, pet proof your home – especially if you have a puppy or kitten. Make sure the trash lids inside and outside the house, are on tightly.
If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, intentionally or otherwise, the number one thing to do is….
The first and most important step is to get your pet to the veterinarian. Some forms of poison or toxins can be very fast acting, especially in smaller animals. Getting your pet to the doctor as quickly as possible is critical. For our hospital, and many others, walk-ins and emergencies are always welcome. Call if you can but otherwise drive to the hospital as quickly as possible. The best case scenario is that your pet was not poisoned and you made the trip for nothing. Gather the packaging of the item- candy wrapper, the baking instructions or the package of poison and bring it with you when you take your pet to the animal hospital.
This information can be the most important thing you can provide your doctor because it allows the doctor to start the appropriate treatment right away. It also tells him or her whether the induction of vomiting will be safe. Some items that are corrosive (such as acids from batteries) can be more harmful when vomiting is induced than when the object passes through the intestinal tract. Some items are too large or lodged too solidly to vomit and must be surgically removed.
It’s safer for your pet if you call immediately. Remember that there’s a narrow window of time when your veterinarian can induce vomiting in the case of a poisoning. At Pacific Animal Hospital, we stay open until 8 pm on weeknights and on weekends we are open from 8 am to 5 pm. If your regular vet is not open, know where your local emergency hospital is. For Northern San Diego County this is the California Veterinary Specialists (link) and Veterinary Specialty Hospitals (link). Their closest locations are in Sorrento Valley and Carlsbad.
For us pet parents, we need to be aware of pet poisons every day of the year. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 760-757-2442. Pacific Animal Hospital is open 7 days a week and always look forward to helping you and your pet!