Looking out of the window at the miserable gloomy skies it is good to remember that Spring and Summer are just around the corner. Many of us will be looking forward to the warmer weather and enjoying some sunnier dog walks. However the change in seasons can mean months of scratching and itching for many sensitive animals, particularly our dogs.
Although there can be many reasons for your pet scratching themselves, parasites and allergies are by far the commonest. We always recommend making sure your pet is up to date with their flea treatments, especially during the summer months when flea problems can quickly escalate.
Compared to people who develop hay fever when exposed to particular allergens or pollens our pets will start to scratch and over-groom. In some instances all that will be seen is a reddish-brown discolouration of the fur. Others will develop bald patches and some can enter an itch/scratch cycle where sores can develop due to the self trauma, which creates further itching and scratching, causing a very uncomfortable ongoing problem.
There are a wide variety of allergens that our sensitive pets can be affected by including some foods, environmental pollens, house dust and storage mites, even flea saliva! Identifying the particular culprit for each pet can be difficult, your vet might suggest a blood test or sampling of the itchy skin.
The best treatment for animals with allergies is to avoid the allergen itself. Unfortunately this is not always possible, or an exact allergen cannot always be found. In these cases medication can be given to reduce the itchiness and combat any secondary infection created by scratching or licking. If longer term treatments are needed there are some cases where it may be possible to make an immunotherapy vaccine to gradually desensitise your pet to the offending allergen. Alternatively there are medications that can be used to reduce the itchiness by altering the improper immune response created by the animal, these are designed to be used for longer periods when needed.
Although most allergies usually have to be managed rather than cured, please come and visit us if your pet is plagued by the summer itch as we can make them a lot comfier, and free to enjoy the warmer weather with you.