AHHHCHOOO! PET ALLERGIES
Has your cat or dog have a case of the scratch and sneezes? Want to understand pet allergies better? Pet Insurance Australia takes a look at what causes many pet allergies and how you can best help your beloved pet plus; read advice from a Natural Veterinary Expert, Dr Bruce Syme.
Allergies are sadly becoming more prevalent in our cat and dog population over the past ten years. At some stage of life, many pet owners will notice their companion animals becoming itchy or uncomfortable due to an allergy-like response to some particular stimuli, be it grass, fleas, pollen, food, plants, household chemicals, or another type of contact allergy like shampoo.
The list is very long, and for pet owners finding the cause can be confusing and frustrating. The hardest part of diagnosing pet allergies is finding the cause of the problem. Common symptoms of pet allergies include;
- Constant scratching
- Hot spots – itchy red and moist zones
- Constant licking
- Shaking head
- Itchy at base of tail
- Itchy ears and constant ear troubles
- Chewing feet and toes
- Hair loss and scabs
- Poor coat condition
A dog or cat with severe allergies will simply be miserable. It is paramount you head off to your trusted veterinarian for a consultation on how to best treat your pet.
First, your vet will need to establish what is causing your dog or cat’s reaction. Your input is vital. Keeping a diary will also help determine what could be causing your pet’s allergy. Think;
- Where was my pet when they became itchy?
- Is this seasonal?
- What does my pet’s diet consist of, including all treats?
- Have I recently changed anything? Diet? Shampoo? The detergent I wash bedding with?
- Have I introduced any new chemicals into the home? Sprays? Carpet deodorant?
- Are there any toxic plants or allergy-causing trees in my pet’s environment? Wandering Jew? Bottle Brush? Take a note of the trees you have around your home.
- Is my flea treatment up-to-date? One bite from a flea can cause a massive reaction in a pet who is suffering from a flea bite allergy.
The sad fact is that often pet owners cannot remove all of the allergens from their pet’s environment. Therefore a plan of action alongside a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Together you can draw up a plan on how to best help your pet’s immune system cope with the influx of allergens.
This could mean a change of diet or adding supplements. Some pets may also require steroid treatment to lessen the reaction. Hot spots and ears will also need to be treated for possibly secondary infections. Washing your pets in specially designed oatmeal based shampoos and conditioners can also help improve the coat and control itching. As too, will keeping your pet cool.
Expert tips with Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons) founder of Vets All Natural
Dr Bruce Syme is a practising vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural in 1996 with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Syme is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio. This is his advice:
- Avoid foods that are highly processed and those that contain obvious food colourants and artificial flavouring.
- Avoid foods that are high in carbohydrate and low in protein (dog treats can be the cause of allergies).
- A daily probiotic can help to settle an over-reactive immune system.
- Just washing your pet in plain water after being outdoors can wash away allergens stuck to the coat, and greatly lessen the itch. Cooling a hot dog in cold water also relieves the itch!
- Allergies tend to be a lifelong problem, so look for “control” rather than “cure”, and aim for a program that uses the lowest amount of drugs, that can have unwanted side effects.