September is Allergy Month at Floreat Vet!
Do you have an itchy pet? Come in for a FREE itchy pet check
Common itchy pet causes:
- Environmental Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Parasites eg fleas or mites
- Skin/ear infections
Dogs can potentially be allergic to many of the same things that cause allergies in humans. During the warmer months, pollens from grass, weeds and trees are the most common allergens that can trigger a response in your dog’s immune system. These environmental allergies are lifelong conditions that are managed rather than cured.
Some breeds are more prone to these allergies than others. Typical signs include ear infections (commonly first seen as red, itchy and smelly ears), skin irritations or itching, skin rashes, paw licking, and redness or sores on paws.
The best first step when you notice any of these signs in your dog is to visit your vet. In addition to a physical examination, your vet may perform a series of diagnostic tests to rule out other potential causes, including parasites, infection and food allergies. Once your vet is sure it’s an environmental allergy, they may recommend a number of treatments, depending on how severe your dog’s allergies are.
Avoiding the offending allergens is the most effective approach, but not always the most practical option. Dogs with environmental allergies often require medication, as well as medicated or soothing shampoos to manage the itch and reduce discomfort.
Supporting and strengthening your dog’s skin with good nutrition is often a fundamental part of the management plan. It has been shown help to decrease the passage of allergens through the skin, as well as enhance the skin’s healing ability. A diet containing high quality protein, fatty acids, as well as certain vitamins and minerals also does a lot to promote a healthy skin and coat in your dog.
It is estimated that 10-20% of allergies in dogs are related to food ingredients. If your pet licks his feet, gets ear infections and scratches, you might need to consider whether he has food allergies.
Pets with food allergies commonly lick their feet and may have itching around the face, ears and bottom. They may just be generally itchy and may or may not have gastrointestinal signs like occasional vomiting and diarrhoea.
This type of allergy develops at around 1 year of age and is not associated with a diet change. When your pet develops a food allergy to something they have previously tolerated, the immune system overreacts to an ingredient in the food, leading to itchy skin.
There is no blood test to diagnose a food allergy. Your pet needs to undergo an elimination diet to rule out a food allergy. Before doing an elimination diet it is important to rule out a flea allergy, contact allergy and any infection that may complicate things. Your vet can help you with this.