Is your pet itchy? Sneezy? Experiencing watery eyes or prone to ear infections?
These may be signs that your pet is experiencing allergies.
There are three common types of pet allergies:
- Flea allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Food allergies
The frustration with allergies is, it can be hard to find the trigger to your dog or cat’s itching frenzy. Once we determine the allergen(s) it is typically a lifelong management process. An important thing to remember is that while you may be frustrated by your itching pet, they are genuinely uncomfortable and need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian and treated without delay.
Today, I am going to focus on the most preventable type of allergy, Flea Allergy Dermatitis. At our Beaufort veterinary hospital, I regularly hear, “but I never see fleas”. Well, let me tell you, you’re not alone. A flea allergic pet only requires one bite to cause a cascade of allergy symptoms. The most common symptom being uncontrollable itching and chewing. If the animal is constantly chewing due to fleas, it is likely that the pet has ingested the evidence. Yes, I mean they ate the flea. The diagnosis is made from clinical signs of hair loss and redness at the base of the tail, back, neck, and face.
So… there are fleas. What next?
1) Monthly flea prevention; in addition to your lowcountry pet’s life-saving monthly Heartworm preventative, there are numerous types of medical products to manage fleas. These can be administered either topically or orally. Please consult your veterinarian to discuss a program that best suits your beloved pet.
2) Flea removal treatments. These work by either killing adult fleas, preventing their growth, or repelling them altogether. Each product has its own combination of methods.
3) Treat the environment. This includes anywhere your animal may lay inside and/or outside. Washing your dog’s bed and your sheets, vacuuming regularly (especially in the cracks close to the walls), and treating your backyard (especially the shaded areas) are all parts of the equation. It is important to treat the environment every 3 weeks or so for at least 3 months to ensure all life cycles of flea are eradicated.
4) Did I mention monthly flea prevention?!
Food for thought to end the discussion. Have you ever heard your veterinarian talking about flea dirt? Well that is actually the poop from the flea and the digested blood from your pet. This may make you think twice about skipping that monthly prevention.
Click the links below to learn more about pet allergies:
-Dr. Kirsten Seelenbinder