Hey, folks! We are well into Spring. To us Southerners, that means pollen, and pollen, for most folks, equals allergies. That includes our pets. These warmer seasons starts the battle with the itchy, scratchy skin. Trust me, I know. My Boxer has been the allergy poster child. 😉
So, what usually brings on the itchy, red onslaught? I break it down into 3 main categories: 1) external parasites, such as fleas, 2) food allergies, usually a protein source, such as chicken or beef, 3) environmental allergies, such as grass, weeds, pollen or dust mites. Whichever is the cause, it leads to broken, damaged skin that is easily susceptible to secondary infections, either bacteria or yeast.
“So, what usually brings on the itchy, red onslaught? I break it down into 3 main categories: 1) external parasites, such as fleas, 2) food allergies, usually a protein source, such as chicken or beef, 3) environmental allergies, such as grass, weeds, pollen or dust mites. ”
After clearing up those infections, then it’s a matter of addressing one of those 3 root causes.
The Root Causes of Allergies
Administering an effective external parasite prevention is a pretty easy fix and one of the first things to do. Oftentimes over the counter products, such as those containing fipronil, may not be as effective because fleas have developed a resistance to the active ingredient, and shampoos only last for a few days. It’s best to talk with your veterinarian to decide what product is right for your pet. Other than collars or topicals, there have been many new oral products on the market that are effective and simple to easy to administer.
For food allergies, we recommend doing a food trial for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. The basic approach to that is determining what ingredients were in the food we’ve eaten in the past and finding a diet that doesn’t contain those ingredients or a diet that has been broken down to just he amino acid portion of the protein. If we feed nothing but the new diet for the time period, the reintroduce any of the old ingredients to the system and have a reaction, we have a better idea of what foods to avoid.
Lastly, are environmental allergies. This one takes more detective work. Once the above 2 are ruled out, we treat environmental allergies by either helping the immune system build a tolerance with immunotherapy or toning down the reaction with regular medications such as tablets, injections, shampoos, sprays, or mousses.
Either way, finding the root cause of allergies along with the most effective treatment can be a pretty frustrating journey. Don’t go at it alone. A thorough history and diagnostic work up by your veterinarian is key to a manageable, long term solution to that red patchy skin, constant itching and restlessness, and sleepless nights.