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DermaPet Allergy

Allergy season is here not only for us, but also for our pets. As the pollen count rises and we start sneezing, our beloved pets are also suffering, but in a different way. Dogs and cats manifest their allergies through their skin while humans may sneeze and get runny eyes. As a result, they may get itchy skin, and ear and skin infections. Environmental pet allergies are called Atopic Dermatitis.

Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is an intensely itchy skin condition caused primarily by allergens in the environment, such as molds, house dust mites, house dust, human dander, feathers, and pollens from trees, weeds, and grasses. Besides being very itchy, dogs and cats with atopic dermatitis are also prone to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) and yeast (Malassezia) infections. However, allergic cats may also have asthma. Certain dog breeds, such as the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Cairn Terrier, Chinese Shar-pei, Dalmatian, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Pug, Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and Wire-haired Fox Terrier, are more commonly affected than other breeds.

Atopic dermatitis usually first occurs at 1-3 years of age, although it may develop as late as age 6 or 7. Atopic dermatitis is usually seasonal initially (e.g. from spring to fall), but often develops into a year-round problem. Itching is the main sign of atopic dermatitis. The diagnosis is made based on the clinical signs and by ruling out other common itchy skin diseases. Chewing, scratching, and infections damage the skin as well. Skin and/or blood tests are used to identify the cause of the allergy. Your veterinarian will advise you if either of these tests is necessary.

When the cause is known and avoidance is possible, this is the best means of control. Keeping your pet away from the cause of the allergy is not always practical and rarely possible, as your pet's coat is like a dust mop that sweeps up the allergens that cause their allergies. Bathing your pet frequently with a moisturizing product, such as DermAllay Shampoo and Spray or DermaLyte Shampoo, or wiping them frequently with a medicated wipe, such as with MalAcetic Wet Wipes, is often effective in removing the allergens from their coat. Topical therapy offers immediate relief and is a very important part of maintaining comfort for allergic animals.
DermAllay Shampoo
DermaLyte Shampoo
Malacetic Wipes
Malacetic Wipes

Topical Therapy

Topical therapy consists of sprays, shampoos and flushes, etc. The following are products that have anti-itch/soothing effects: MalAcetic ULTRA Otic, DermAllay Shampoo and DermaLyte Shampoo. There are many medicated shampoos, sprays, flushes and wipes available that can be used to treat concurrent infections. Some are available over the counter, while some will need to be dispensed by your veterinarian.

MalAcetic ULTRA
MalAcetic ULTRA Shampoo
Malacetic Wipes

Steroids Treatment
Treatment with oral steroids for itchiness and oral medications to treat concurrent underlying infections is often needed to control these allergies. However, steroids become less effective over time and may cause undesirable side effects. Anti-histamines, such as Benadryl, may also be effective in reducing their itchiness but can cause sedation. Topical therapy is almost always needed in conjunction with these medications.

Other Medications
Medications that reduce the immune system's response to allergens (immunomodulating medications) are also available. Atopica, which is cyclosporine, is an example of this type of medication. However, these medications may cause undesirable effects over time as well.

Desensitizing injections (allergy shots) may help if avoidance or drug therapy is ineffective. Desensitization injections, however, are not always effective, may take a long time to start working and continued treatment is usually necessary.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Finally, fatty acids are an important part of control, both topically and orally. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, such as the inflammation that occurs in the skin with allergies and as a result causes itchiness. Be sure to use an omega-3 fatty acid supplement derived from fish oil, such as EicosaDerm.

Our goal during this time of year is to keep out pets comfortable, itch and skin infection free! Each pet's allergies will need to be tailored to fit their individual allergies and environment in which they live

Author: Jessica Melman, VMD
For a full line of DermaPet products please visit our Section Page.
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