SPRINGTIME ALLERGY MANAGEMENT IN PETS

For us humans spring is a lovely time as we watch the flowers start to bloom, but for some with that comes dreaded hay fever! Springtime allergies also affect our pets and may cause them the same sort of grief, typically in the form
 of intensely itchy, red, and inflamed skin. While it can be much more difficult to tell which allergen is causing problems in our pets, there are some common kinds we see frequently. 

PARASITE ALLERGY 

The most common parasites we deal with are intestinal worms, topical fleas and ticks, and blood born parasites like heartworm. It is important to note that parasites, as a group, always tend to attack and populate the weakest and sickest animals. So the best way to manage all parasites is to keep your pet in the best of health. A strong immune system will fight off parasites but prevention is better than taking chances. Use flea control only if needed and heartworm and tick control based on your local area requirements. Using products that specifically target the parasite, rather than monthly treatments with an all in one parasite control, is preferable. 

Supplementary, fleas cause an intense itch for our pets and some animals may develop an allergy to flea saliva, causing what is normally known as ‘flea allergy’ dermatitis. Commonly this shows
 as a scabby rash on the base of the pet’s tail and/or rump. This allergy is one of the easiest varieties to control; using a veterinary-grade flea treatment product, the allergen can be eliminated. Intensely affected pets may require additional anti-allergy medications to help relieve their signs. 

FOOD ALLERGY 

Did you know some dogs can’t eat beef and some cats can’t eat fish? It’s true! Food allergies are typically under-diagnosed in our pets or confused with other kinds of allergies. Dogs and cats may develop dietary sensitivities to common pet food ingredients like beef, mutton, fish, chicken, wheat, corn, soy, dairy foods and eggs. We can’t stop this irregular response so the most effective treatment is to avoid eating the food that causes the problem.

Trying to find the offending agent can be no easy task. This typically involves a process of elimination. Starting the pet on a hypoallergenic diet, or a diet with a less common protein source such as crocodile or venison and wait and see if the signs of allergic disease resolve, if they do, great! It’s then a matter of progressively testing the pet on different proteins to find out which one causes the skin to flare up, and then avoiding this protein for life.

CONTACT ALLERGIES  

Contact allergies are more rare than a lot of people think, but still occur in our dogs and cats. There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic and irritant. In both cases, the pet must make direct physical contact with a substance in order to suffer a reaction. 

Allergic dermatitis occurs when a pet becomes oversensitive to substances in their environment and is caused by repeated physical contact. Despite your pet coming into contact with these substances in the past without issue, skin irritation can take somewhere between six months to two years to develop.

Irritant dermatitis, on the other hand, is when a reaction occurs the first time your pet makes contact with a substance. Common household chemicals and plants that cause this include: poison ivy sap, detergents, soaps, solvents, acids and alkalis, and petroleum by-products. 

When diagnosed, these can be some of the more frustrating allergic conditions to manage, as there is no cure. The best way to treat and prevent the disease is to limit exposure to the irritating substance. It may involve having to completely prevent access to certain places or the use of funky bodysuits to reduce exposure! 

ATOPIC DERMATITIS 

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease. This is the second most common skin disease in dogs. Generally harmless materials like pollens, grass, mould spores, house dust mites, and other environmental allergens can bring on sensitive reactions. Symptoms gradually worsen with time and can become more obvious during spring. The signs connected with atopic dermatitis consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, and licking, especially around the face, paws, and underarms.

Early onset of atopic dermatitis is often associated with a family history of skin allergies and breeds like Staffys and West Highland White Terriers are predisposed. Despite the fact dogs are more prone to atopic dermatitis, it may still occur in felines.

Unfortunately, atopic dermatitis seldom goes into remission or naturally resolves. However, bathing your dog or cat in cool water with anti-itch shampoos may help alleviate its symptoms. 

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT 

Ultimately, your veterinarian is the best qualified to discuss management of allergic skin disease in pets with you, and the control you use will depend on your objectives and how far you wish to take the diagnosis. Often, decisively finding out which allergen is at
 play involves testing trials over many weeks and may even lead to a referral to a veterinary dermatologist for additional skin testing or desensitisation therapy. If this is not an option, the signs of allergic skin disease can be controlled with medications that suppress the immune response, antibiotics for secondary infections, and medicated shampoos. There are new medications on the market that can tone down allergic skin responses with fewer side effects than past medications; you should always discuss with your veterinarian if these are the right choice for you and your pet before administering yourself. 

Hoping both you and your furry family members have a wonderful springtime, sniffles and scratching free! 

Megan SeccullComment
MAX FINDS REAL LOVE

Max’s story was all too familiar to us here at AAPS. Sadly, he belonged to a family that grew tired of having a cat and eventually surrendered him to the Shelter. Max spent eight years giving that family his love, only to one-day wake up in a different environment and not know why he was left there. 

We made sure Max was fit and able to be re-homed and then set to work finding him the perfect ‘furever’ home. However, Max was a special case, not only was he a bit older than the usual surrenders but he had a cataract in one eye, which meant he was limited to being indoors

We wondered at the adoption interest we would get for Max and hoped he wouldn’t need to spend any more time than necessary at the Shelter. Boy, was all that worry for nothing. Max’s profile went up and within a matter of days he had a new family who loved him. 

We spoke to his owners a week ago to see how Max was settling in and they wrote us this lovely email detailing their and of course Max’s happiness… 

Hi AAPS,

When we first saw Max on the pet rescue website we instantly fell in love with this little fur ball and knew we had to bring him home. I sent out an enquiry to AAPS and we were to meet him on 2nd September. We were too excited to adopt him and hence we asked if we could bring him home the same day - we felt another family would snap him up otherwise.

When we went to see him he was facing the wall. He greeted us, sniffed our hands, head booped and purred but faced the wall again. He looked sad and we wanted to give him all our love. The journey home was a long two-hour drive and he had pooped in his box as he was scared and nervous. While we gave him a bath straightaway, he was calm and compliant. He then hopped on our bed and now that is where he sleeps, by our feet - and not in the three cat caves we got him. On the first night he spent two hours hiding under the bed and we were worried, but by the second day he was comfortable around us and started following us around the house. Max loves head boops and cuddles. He is very chatty and we love having cat conversations with him.

He has now started playing with his toys, getting cosy on the cat tower, licks and nibbles on our hands, kneads on everything that is soft (and that includes us!) and wet noses us. He seems like a kitten most times and is fun to play with but very gentle and cuddly at other times. 

After we adopted him we read his story on the Facebook page on AAPS and we were in tears! We simply could not imagine that no one wanted Max's love as he has so much of it to give. He is our baby and this is now his forever home, we think he loves us too.

We hope more people adopt senior pets, as they are really special. They will always love you unconditionally even if they have not received too much love in the past.

Regards,

Kshama and Quinn

Please feel free to share your happy adoption stories with us, we love hearing how our past boarders are doing. 

NEW SURROUNDINGS

BY TEDWOOD

Wow, how cool is this, a new shelter and website! Not only do I get to help out in the office a couple of days a week they’ve also asked me to write blogs to give a dogs perspective of the world and report on what’s going happening at AAPS. If you ask me it’s long overdue. We also have a cat, yes a cat writing a column in the Newsletter! Honestly, as if a cat would know what’s going on.

Anyway, here’s a little something about myself. I’m Tedwood Green and I’m 15 years old. They say I’m a Chihuahua-Pomeranian cross but I don’t feel cross at all, I’m actually very calm. My mum used to work in the office at the shelter. She’d be so proud to know I followed in her footsteps. She had to go away and couldn’t come back so my brother, sister and I went to live with my Aunty and her fur-kids. She has lots! I’ll tell you about them all one day.   

I loved my mum. She used to bring home all sorts of baby creatures to care for, she called them wildlife but they didn’t seem particularly wild to me. She brought home dogs and cats too, who must’ve loved it because they always stayed. We even had a couple of rats that were very funny. We were one big happy family. She took me to the shelter a few times but back then I preferred to play guard dog at home. Mum used to say I must have been doing a good job ‘cause we were never burgled.

The new shelter is different but I’m sitting on the same chair and have the same adoring humans around me, so I’m getting used to it. They’re all working very hard to get things up and running and from what I can tell are still helping lots of animals. I’ll actually be really pleased when they are able to keep animals on the premises, especially dogs, as I’m currently sharing my Aunt’s home with three Staffy puppies. She says they won’t be here for much longer though.   

Any-hoo, it’s getting a bit late. Aunty says I need to stop writing and get to bed as we’ve got an early start tomorrow. I'll catch up with you all again soon. In the mean time feel free to browse our new website.

Megan Seccull