Itchy Skin in the Fall

Well, it is nice to see some cooler temperatures and perfect weather for getting outdoors with our pets and being more active.  We are still seeing a lot of fleas on pets as well as high amounts of mosquito activity, so stay diligent with your pets heartworm and flea control measures.itchy cat

This time of year we always see a spike in itchy pets.  Most of the pets with fall time skin problems are related to environmental allergies called Atopy.  This is a large class of allergens made of things like pollen from grass, weeds, and trees as well as molds which have been very high as of late.  Pets carry a high level of “Mast” cells (which carry histamine) in their skin organ.  If these cells have been preset to respond to some of our fall allergens, they release histamine and cause large amounts of inflammation.  This leads to the classical symptoms we see of hair loss, redness, chewing, and scratching.

Trying to relieve these symptoms can be a challenge.  Things that can be tried at home are daily doses of Benadryl, medicated and soothing baths, and omega fatty acid supplementation.  Some pets need more aggressive support and can be seen at the clinic to see if they have any secondary infections from bacteria or yeast on the skin that needs to be addressed.  Some pets may need a short course of steroids to help relieve the severe inflammation in their skin.

Basset pup scratching her earIf you want to look deeper at trying to find better long term management, pets can be either blood or skin tested to identify exactly what they are allergic to.  With this information, it may be possible to limit their exposure to those allergens.  If exposure cannot be limited, then a specific therapy made up of your pets allergens can be formulated and given to your pet either via injections or by mouth.  If your pet is having skin problems this Fall and you would like us to help you work through these steps, give us a call and set up an appointment.

Also, with Halloween time around the corner, we will have more candy and sweets in our homes.  Remember that chocolate is potentially toxic to pets if ingested in high enough doses.  You also need to be very careful with potential exposure of pets to the artificial sweetener Xylitol that is found in some candy and gums.  This is very toxic to pets.

Matt Thompson DVM
Affordable Pet Care

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