With the weather beginning to warm up, spring is in full bloom here in the Bryan/College Station area. With spring flowers comes an array of new pollens which can be irritating to your pet’s eyes and skin.
Just like people, dogs and cats can have allergies to environmental pollens from trees, grasses, and flowers. Usually, dogs and cats show the first signs of allergies between 1 and 3 years of age. Symptoms include eye discharge, itchy, flakey skin, hair loss, licking paws, and carpet surfing (rubbing his/her belly on the carpet).
Before diagnosing your pet with allergies, you and your veterinarian should work together to make sure your furry family member doesn’t have any other concurrent skin conditions. The skin has a natural community of bacteria and yeast that helps keep the skin (epithelium) healthy. Sometimes, these bacteria and yeast can grow out of control, leading to infection. Pets with skin infections oftentimes have itchy skin and paws, just like a pet that has allergies.
Another reason as to why your pet may be itching is due to parasites. Here in the Bryan/College Station area, our flea population is active year-round. A flea infestation can cause intense itching and hair loss, especially at the base of the tail and on the face. Over the counter flea medications can be dangerous to your pet’s health, so speak with your veterinarian before applying any over the counter products. Less commonly, skin mites can cause itching and hair loss. If you are concerned that your pet has mites, your veterinarian may need to do a skin scrape to identify the mite to prescribe an appropriate treatment.
Once your pet is deemed to be infection and parasite free, a thorough evaluation for environmental or food allergies can take place. There are various topical medications like wipes, sprays, mousses, and shampoos that may help with your pet’s itching. There are also oral medications that your veterinarian may prescribe to help lessen the itch, either by reducing the inflammation or by blocking the itch receptor in the brain.
Just like in humans, allergy testing is performed on cats and dogs by evaluating their blood for an immune response. From this testing, sublingual (under the tongue) drops are tailor made to help your pet’s immune system be less sensitive to environmental allergens (immunotherapy). Some pets get significant relief from allergy drops alone, while others find the most relief using oral and topical medications in conjunction with immunotherapy.
Contact us today if you have further questions or would like to set up an appointment with Chasing Tails Mobile Veterinary Services to discuss treatment options for your pet!
Dr. Melissa Guard