Fall is a wonderful time of year in Minnesota except for our pets that have seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can make the fall miserable for those pets. This has been a bad year for seasonal contact allergies in Minnesota. The mild temperatures and rain has allowed for great growth of the weeds, grasses, and molds that commonly irritate our pets.
The most common symptoms of seasonal contact allergies are: licking and chewing on the feet and abdomen, scratching around the head and armpit area, rubbing of the face, excessive tearing, rash on abdomen, and some sneezing. Dogs can show any combination of these symptoms.
When dealing with allergies we take two approaches: Prevention of symptoms and treatment of symptoms.
Prevention includes such options as: 1. Allergy testing 2. Reducing contact to allergens by avoiding areas of high pollen and mold concentration. 3. Rinsing off allergens using a shampoo that cleanses the skin and fur as well as soothes and hydrates the skin. 4. Reducing histamine release by adding Omega 3 fatty acids to the diet.
Treatment of contact allergies can involve: 1. Using antihistamines to counteract the allergic reaction. There are several different antihistamines that can be affective in managing the itching and inflammation if given at the appropriate dose. 2. Steroids may be needed if the allergies are not responding to the antihistamines. 3. We now have 2 relatively new options that can be used that are not steroids. We have been using ATOPICA (cyclosporine) for several years with good success. Now, in the last 9 months, we have a new product APOQUEL (oclacitinib). This new drug works on a different pathway than other medication we have used in the past. It appears to be another good option for treatment.
We have found that usually we have to take a multi-modal approach to treatment and management of allergies. We recommend treatment with allergy medication as well as prevention with shampooing and Omega 3 fatty acids.
For dogs and cats with prolonged bouts of allergy symptoms or ones who have poor response to medical therapy, we strongly recommend allergy testing. Allergy testing allows us to: identify the specific allergens that are causing our pet to react, and then we can desensitize against these allergens and greatly reduce medication needed to treat symptoms.
So if your pet is itching, scratching, or rubbing please call so we can help make them more comfortable and make it an enjoyable Minnesota fall for both you and your pet.