Monthly Archives: February 2012

Itching and Allergies in Pets

Itching and Allergies in Pets

By Kim Luikart, DVM 

Coping with an itchy pet can be extremely frustrating. Persistent scratching and chewing can quickly lead to wounds and secondary infections and should be addressed quickly.  In humans, allergies usually result in “hay fever.”  Dogs and cats can sometimes have respiratory allergies, but more commonly experience allergic hypersensitivity as skin problems including redness, itching, recurring skin/ear infections, and hair loss.The most common causes of chronic itching fall into two groups: external parasites and allergies.The major types of allergies include flea hypersensitivity (a response to the flea’s saliva), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis.

External parasites that most commonly cause problems include fleas, lice, or mites.  Fleas are rarely seen in this area but can cause problems, especially in the winter months.

Food Allergy- Pets can develop hypersensitivity to specific components of the diet, usually a protein or carbohydrate such as beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, or soy.  Diagnosing food allergy requires a food trial in which your pet is fed a prescription limited ingredient diet with ingredients your pet has not eaten before for 10-16 weeks.

Atopic dermatitis- Atopy is an inherited predisposition to allergies associated with pollens, house dust mites, or mold spores.  Diagnosis may be made by ruling out other causes, or in some cases, referral to a specialist for allergy testing.  Symptomatic drug therapy with steroids or other drug therapies often alleviate symptoms.

Secondary infections- Allergies are often the underlying cause of skin and ear infections.  Bacterial and skin infections can increase the level of itching.  Long term treatment with antibiotics and anti-yeast medications, as well as prescription shampoos is commonly required.

Unfortunately there are no cures for allergies and they will remain a lifelong problem.  Our goal is to control the allergies and improve the quality of life for you and your pet.

Antifreeze and Why its Hazardous to Your Pets Health.

Ethylene Glycol or Antifreeze Ingestion

By: Jackie Pulver

Ethylene glycol or most commonly known as antifreeze, is a serious health hazard to pets. Exposure to small amounts of the substance can be  fatal to both cats and dogs. Ethylene glycol is present year round, but exposure is most common during winter. The substance has a sweet taste, so pets are often attracted to it. After ingestion of the ethylene glycol, an animal will often appear “drunk” within 1-2 hours. They may stumble, vomit, and be in a stupor. As the “stupor” phase subsides, the animal may become more quiet and depressed, and an owner may notice the animal drinking and urinating more. Animals ingesting ethylene glycol can develop irreversible kidney damage that is often fatal. Animals with suspected antifreeze ingestion need to have immediate medical attention.

Treatment for ethylene glycol includes the induction of vomiting if it has been within 60 minutes of ingestion. These patients also need supportive care with intravenous fluids. Due to the kidney damage caused by  ethylene glycol, these patients need to have their kidney function monitored closely after recovery. Antifreeze is a substance that is present in almost every household. A small amount is deadly. If you have any concern that your pet may have ingested this substance, please seek medical attention immediately.