Dog Scatching? Could be Allergies
Welcome back to Buckley Veterinary Hospital’s monthly pet care column. With warmer weather on the horizon and the allergies than come with seasonal changes, we are touching on allergies that may affect your furry family members.
The information in this piece is provided to you in part by Pet Health Network.
Just as allergies are increasing among humans, veterinarians are seeing significant increases in allergies in pets. Interestingly, the symptoms of canine and feline allergies cause different symptoms than typical “hay fever” – known clinically as allergic rhinitis in people. While people sneeze and wheeze, pets tend to itch and scratch.
Allergies can be divided into three main categories: flea allergy, environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis) and food allergy. Although flea allergy and environmental allergies are most common, often pets can have multiple allergies so a thorough evaluation by your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist is recommended.
Flea allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Pets are exposed to flea saliva when bitten by fleas, and it doesn’t take many bites to cause an allergic reaction. Pets with flea allergy typically develop itching over their backs, legs, bellies and tail. This condition is known as flea allergy dermatitis. The itching and allergic reaction can cause development of “hot spots” and secondary bacterial infections.
Diagnosis is made based on the pattern of itching, which your veterinarian can help to identify. In many cases (but not all) there will be visual evidence of fleas such as flea “dirt” (flea feces appearing as black specks). However, visual evidence of fleas is not always present as fleas spend the majority of their lives off of the pet and fleas can be removed in the process of scratching and grooming by the pet. Treatment includes preventing exposure to fleas in your pet’s environment in combination with strict flea prevention methods.