Allergic Skin Conditions in Pets
Stopping the Itch
Your pet is showing signs consistent with allergies. Most allergies fall into one of four categories: flea allergy, food allergy, contact allergy, and atopy. Atopy includes allergies to airborne allergens such as pollens, as well as molds, mites, and dust. Therapy for allergic pets is targeted at reducing exposure to allergens, treating secondary infections and "putting out the fire." Many pets have a combination of allergies and will need a multi-modal approach to lowering their "itching threshold." We have the following recommendations for your pet.
Flea control: Monthly flea preventatives (Revolution or Frontline) are essential for the allergic pet. It often does not take many fleas to cause a severe reaction in an allergic pet. It is also important to treat all pets in the household because non-allergic pets can serve as a reservoir for the flea-allergic pet.
Antihistamines: These medications are used in dogs and cats for allergies just as they are used in people. Pets don't always respond as well to antihistamines as well as their human counterparts so they are often used in combination with other therapies. They are however very safe and inexpensive.
Topical Therapy: There are a variety of shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and spot-treatments that are used in dermatology. These products may do anything from reducing inflammation and pruritis (itching) to aiding in the treatment of secondary infection, degreasing, and moisturizing the skin.
Dietary Therapy: Hill's Prescription d/d is specifically formulated for allergic pets. Not only does it have novel protein and carbohydrate sources for pets with food allergies, it also has very high levels of essential fatty acids present. These fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. This feature allows us to use this food as an adjunct to other therapies as well as a way treat food allergies and partial food allergies. Some dogs may need to feed this diet exclusively while others may only have a partial food allergy and just feeding the d/d as their primary diet will reduce the allergens enough to control their itching.
Antibiotic Therapy: Treatment with antimicrobial drugs is important in cases of secondary bacterial infection as well as cases of bacterial hypersensitivities. Antibiotics must frequently be used for extended periods of time in allergic pets-often for 7-14 days beyond a clinical resolution of infection.
Antifungal Therapy: Treatment with antifungal agents (topical or systemic) is needed for control of secondary fungal infection or for yeast hypersensitivity.
Allergy Testing: This is needed in some dogs that are not responsive to the above recommended therapies. Allergy testing checks for specific items that your pet is allergic too and then a dermatologist creates specific immunotherapy injections for your pets.