Allergies, The Itchy and Scratchy Show
Is your pet turning your house into the Itchy and Scratchy show? Does the jingle, jangle of pet tags keep you awake at night as your pet scratches feverishly at what itches him? Any pet owner who has a pet with allergies or fleas knows what I am talking about. Now there are preventative measures available that can give you and your pet relief.
Flea allergy is the most common allergy in dogs and cats. It causes severe itching. Some pets cannot tolerate even one flea bite and will itch for days. Fortunately, flea control products that only have to be applied once a month have revolutionized the fight against fleas and are saving pet owners considerable amounts of time and money. All a flea has to do is jump on a pet and it will die without even having bitten your pet. Some of these are prescription products that are available only from a veterinarian and are completely safe for animals, but are lethal to fleas and ticks and continue to protect your pet against new fleas for thirty days. Similar, but very different over the counter products as well as counterfeit and diverted products can be found for sale in some stores and over the internet. These products can contain potentially harmful insecticides and should be avoided.
Another common cause of itching is seasonal allergies to airborne pollens, spores and fungi. Some of these “aeroallergens” travel for many miles and have been found as far as 200 miles out over the ocean. While many people sneeze and sniffle through the pollen seasons, their pet may be scratching for the same reason. Seasonal allergies cause respiratory ills in people, but in our pets these inhalant allergens trigger itchy skin and result in scratching, licking and rubbing until their skin has scabs and raw spots. There are regional variations, but in the tropical setting of Southwest Florida a pet may have year-round exposure and a year-round itch.
Veterinarians can diagnose and treat these symptoms in a variety of ways. There are tests to narrow down the cause of the itching and many treatments to alleviate your pet’s suffering. Veterinarians can also recommend the best vitamins and supplements that unbiased research has shown to help prevent these allergic reactions. If your pet is already itching or already has scabs and raw spots, see your veterinarian for treatment which can be followed up with preventative measures to avoid or minimize a recurrence in the future. If your pet has fleas, call to inquire about the best and safest flea control products.
Dr. Dave Smith has been a veterinarian in Florida for over 18 years. His practice is the Sarasota Veterinary Center on Cattlemen Road near Bee Ridge Road next to the Burlington Coat Factory. He can be reached at 941-377-3031 for questions or inquiries.