Allergies in your pets

When is a scratch more than an itch?

How do you know if your cat or dog is suffering from skin allergies? These warmer months often bring many causes for skin irritation - fleas love this weather, and pollen fills the air. But when is a skin problem actually an allergy?

Some signs in dogs are obvious - itching, scratching, redness - but some may not be:

  • Have recurring ear or skin infections?
  • Lick excessively at their paws other than just to clean them if muddy or wet?
  • Rub their face along furniture or the ground, or with their paws?
  • Scoot their bum along the ground? This can occur with full anal glands and occasionally with worms, but also with allergies.

Cats are a bit different but may show the following signs:

  • Licking until they cause a red raw lesion.
  • Multiple small raw spots.
  • Overgrooming causing bald areas, even with no obvious lesions on the skin itself.

20% of dogs with food allergies will have both a skin irritation as well as vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs that are allergic to a plant or pollen may only itch in the warmer months, when these plants are going to seed and pollen is rife. A dog allergic to something in his diet, will tend to itch all year round.

To make things more complex, a good proportion of itchy dogs have multiple triggers for their skin problems.

When it comes to allergic skin disease, the most important messages are:

  • There is no cure but it can be managed.
  • Normally a combination of diet, shampooing and medication will be required.
  • Allergic skin disease is lifelong. There will be flare-ups, and management strategies will need to change with the dog as they age.

Totally Vets offers a 45-minute in-depth skin consultation at our Feilding clinic. To make a booking to look at your pet's skin condition call us on 06 323 6161 and we can provide advice and a management plan.