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Allergies

Allergies

The coming of Spring is not all flowers and picnics in the woods. From many of our furry friends (and for many of us too), it also means that dreade word – allergies! For our pets it means itchy skin, runny eyes an general discomfort. To understand what allergy is and how to treat it, we need to understand the difference between allergy types.

Contact allergy
The irritation caused by coming into contact with irritant or allergic material, most often plant material. This type of allergy is usually seasonal and affects the ‘underside’ of the pet – feet, chest, abdomen, armpits, etc.

The first thing to try and do is to find and eliminate the cause. It may include having a thorough look in the backyard for irritant plants, or avoiding the more exotic places to go for a doggy walk.

Flea allergy
Externally common and also seasonal. Usually affects the area on the back near the tail. Even when no fleas can be seen, I always recommend using a good flea killing product to make sure these parasites are taken out of the equation.

Food allergy
It seems strange that food allergy can manifest itself on the skin, but it often does. This already is usually not seasonal and may affect any part of the pet’s body at random. Remember, food manufacturers often change composition of their products so a dog that has eaten one brand of food only, has in fact been eating multiple different ingredients. I often recommend doing a home cooked diet trial (for at least 6-8 weeks) using only a few basic ingredients. If an improvement is seen, other ingredients can be added in to identify which foods are safe to feed.

When allergies strike, it is essential to allow the veterinarian to examine not just the pet, but also the immediate environment, including diet, bedding and the plants in the backyard. Only by doing this can the cause of the problem be identified.

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