ALLERGIES and can be the underlying cause for RECURRING SKIN AND EAR INFECTIONS. Allergies can be due to food, insects, or environmental factors like dust, pollen, or mold. Fleas can be the primary cause , or make an already allergic dog even itchier! Allergies can be an overreaction of the immune system to substances that are usually considered harmless. Most allergies are not cured, but can be controlled with a combination of topical and oral medications.
PARASITES: Flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in dogs and cats. For the flea allergic pet, 100% flea control is essential as just ONE SINGLE flea bite can cause severe itching for days. Florida Veterinary Dermatologists recommend systemic (oral) flea control in addition to rigorous environmental control for flea allergic patients.
FOOD ALLERGIES: Are most commonly caused be the protein ingredient such as beef, chicken, or pork, and less often by carbohydrate sources like corn or wheat. Food allergies must be diagnosed by feeding a diet with a novel protein and a single digestible carb source, or one that has been hydrolyzed (broken down) so small that the body doesn’t recognize it as an allergen. These diets must be fed exclusively for a period of 12-16 weeks and during this time NO other treats or supplements are given. Pet foods that claim to be “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin” are NOT the same as a low antigen and are not recommended for food trials. Low antigen diets are expensive and you will NOT find quality low antigen diets at a feed store or pet shop. Dr. Long recommends Hill’s and Royal Canin based on these products’ quality research evidence.
ATOPIC DERMATITIS: Is an inherited or acquired predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following repeated exposure to normally harmless substances such as pollens, molds, and dust. Inhalation and SKIN CONTACT to these allergens can cause severe itching in pets. Reduce allergen exposure by bathing weekly with hypoallergenic moisturizing shampoo, avoid stuffed toys, and wash bedding regularly, remove pet from area when dusting or vacuuming, use air conditioning with a high quality filter system, keep pets off freshly mowed grass, and minimize houseplants.
TREATMENT OPTIONS MAY INCLUDE A COMBINATION OF:
FREE FORM: Omega 3 fatty acids: HIGH doses of DHA/EPA can reduce itching and inflammation, aid in management of healthy skin, and improve response to other allergy therapies. High quality EPA/DHA must be dosed at 180mg/10lb for allergic conditions. Read labels carefully: 1000mg Fish Oil does not equal 1000mg of EPA/DHA. Avoid dollar store bargains!!
ANTIHISTAMINES: Only work on about 20% of itchy dogs. They are safe to use for life, but some can cause drowsiness. Several types may need to be tried before you find the one that works best on your pet. Most work better in conjunction with EPA/DHA, and/or topical therapies
"ATOPICA" (cyclosporine): Targets key cells in the immune system that cause allergic reactions, stops itching before it starts, and is safe for long term use, but requires routine blood monitoring. Good option for year round allergies to environmental allergens.
SPRAYS & SHAMPOOS: Some give temporary relief of itching and restore skins natural barrier. May contain oatmeal, topical anesthetics, antibacterials and/or hydro-cortisone. DISCUSS THESE WITH US FIRST
TOPICAL FATTY ACIDS: Essential 6 Spot On- contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and Vitamin E to help restore skin barrier, soothe itching and redness, and regulate sebum levels in the skin.
STEROIDS: Have many potential short and long term side effects and are reserved for adults with short seasonal problems, or where other therapies have failed. Steroids are not safe for long-term use.
FLEA CONTROL: Florida veterinary dermatologists recommend systemic (oral) flea control products such as NEXGARD or TRIFEXIS for pets with allergies and they should be used all year round.
Our veterinarians will design a treatment plan for your dog based on your pets’ physical exam findings, previous treatment, and medical history. Without allergy testing and desensitization, allergies are controlled, not cured.