By Stacey Frazier. Let’s assume you have realized that a cat is the way to go. You know all about how independent they can be, how they are lower maintenance than a dog, and how just petting them can actually make you feel better (you even know that petting a cat causes your body to release calming chemicals In your body and that cat owners are less likely to be at risk for strokes than any other pet owner.) Cats rock. You get that. But now, where do you get yourself a cat? Continue…
May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and Dr. Anna Coffin always treats more cases of dog allergies this time of year. Unlike people, who typically develop upper respiratory symptoms, dogs with allergies develop itchy skin. Affected dogs are itchy all over, but especially in their face, feet, ears, abdomen, and groin. Approximately twenty-five percent of all veterinarian visits are for skin and hair coat related problems.
Three common dog allergies:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis: This is the most common allergy seen in dogs and cats. Pets with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) are allergic to the flea’s saliva. One flea bite can make your pet itchy for up to one month. Pets with FAD are usually itchy over the base of the tail.
- Inhalant Allergy or Atopy: This is the second most common allergy in dogs. Dogs with atopy are itchy in their face, feet, abdomen and groin. Atopy occurs because your dog’s immune system overreacts to inhaled allergens such as grass, trees, pollens, and molds.
- Food Allergy: Dogs with food allergies are itchy in their face, feet, and rear. The protein source (meat) is the most common cause of food allergies, but your dog could also be allergic to the carbohydrate source. Anna Coffin recommends switching your pet to a prescription diet for food allergies that contains a different protein and carbohydrate than your previous diet.
New research is not only helping veterinarians to understand the actual cause of dog allergies, but it is helping in the development of new treatments that will help improve the lives of itchy dogs and their owners. Here is what we have learned:
- Atopy begins when the allergen is absorbed through the skin. The dog’s immune system reacts to the allergen and then releases factors that causing inflammation and itching.
- When your dog itches, it causes damage to the skin barrier which increases the rate at which these allergies are absorbed through the skin. Scratching and damage to the skin barrier also puts your dog at risk for bacterial or fungal skin infections which increases your dog’s itchiness.
- In the past, steroids have been the treatment of choice to try and decrease the inflammation. Unfortunately, steroids have side effects, and long-term use of this drug can cause your dog to be at risk for other diseases.
- Recent research has helped us find several new treatments that are specifically targeted at blocking the inflammation that starts the itch cycle. These new treatments have no side effects.
Treatment for dog allergies can be frustrating to owners and veterinarians. Removing the cause of the allergy is the best way to help relieve your dog’s symptoms. Removing the allergen is easier to do with flea and food allergies than it is with inhalant allergies. If your dog has atopy, learn to recognize the signs and symptoms because early treatment can prevent secondary infections. Open communication with your veterinarian about these newer treatments can help your dog live a happier, healthier life. Dr. Anna Coffin and the staff of Guthrie Pet Hospital would be happy to talk to you about your dog’s allergies.
By Stefani Fortney ABCDT. May 15-21 is National Dog Bite Prevention week. While it’s great that there’s a month dedicated to the education of the general population on how to avoid dog bites, I’m going to focus on talking specifically to dog owners. It’s our responsibility as owners to prevent the situation arising where our dog could bite. So often, owners of potentially aggressive, timid, snippy, or picky dogs don’t want to acknowledge the fact that their beloved pooch might bite someone. Continue…
The quality of veterinary care has never been better. Advancements in diagnostics, medications and treatment technologies have enabled veterinarians to provide amazing care. However, these new tools are expensive when your dog or cat suffers from a serious illness or injury.
So what’s the best way to protect your pet and your budget from unexpected health issues?