Seasonal Allergies In June

By Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM

Allergies occur in our pets when their immune system is reacting to chemicals or compounds that have entered the body by any number of pathways. Your vet may use the term ‘ATOPY’, to describe recurring allergic responses by your family pets. These compounds, referred to as ‘allergens’, can enter the body by inhalation into the lungs, by ingestion through foodstuffs, by injection as might occur with flea bites, or, by direct contact as can occur with grass, furniture, rugs, etc. In any case, the body will program exposure to these elements, and with successive exposures, may mount a response that becomes more and more dramatic.

Dogs, in particular, will respond to allergens with skin conditions, ear infections, or conjunctivitis type syndromes, or what most moms might relate to pink eye in their children. Many of the larger breeds, like golden retrievers and others, are commonly afflicted with a low performing thyroid gland. A simple test at your veterinarian’s office will demonstrate the presence or absence of this condition. Treatment is typically very cheap, and usually, persists throughout their lifetime. These sorts of dogs often demonstrate ‘hot spots’, sometime in the warmer months of the year. The hot spot condition presents as a moist dermatitis. The animal is very uncomfortable, and the area afflicted is usually inflamed, reddened, oozing clear fluid and absent of hair. Your vet will likely suggest antibiotics, shampoos, topicals and possibly an anti-inflammatory shot.

As stated, ears are another location manifesting chronic, recurring response to allergies. And again, each veterinarian tends to develop their own style of managing and treating ears, skin or eyes. Diagnostically, your vet will discuss special testing that highlights statistically significant allergens that are affecting your pet. Other rule out actions might include food trials to find foodstuffs that are reasonable for your pet. Dust mites, prevalent in the nicest of homes, constitute one of the more common allergens afflicting our house pets.

Parasites like fleas, can present as either a true flea infestation, wherein fleas or flea dirt cover the animals body, especially notable on the area just in front of the tail, commonly referred to as the ‘tail head’, or in the groin area. On the other hand, there is a condition referred to as a ‘flea hypersensitivity’. In this latter case, the pet has been repeatedly exposed to flea bites. The flea saliva registers a concern with the immune system, and in future episodes, the flea may bite your pet, fall off the animal, and still create an exaggerated allergic type response. Cats often develop a lumpy bumpy, scaley condition called ‘miliary dermatitis’, secondary to flea allergy hypersensitivity.

We have just touched the surface as regards pet seasonal allergies. Again, many chemicals or compounds can illicit an allergic response in your pets. It’s up to your vet, along with your pet ownership assistance, to play detective and attempt to find the cause, and then, the best approach to managing allergies, with pharmaceuticals, desensitizing allergen shots, specialized foods, or even managing your household to minimize dust mite incidence. Finally, keeping your pet’s coat trimmed in the spring and summer, may help in minimizing skin conditions associated with allergy conditions.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer time!
Dr. Doug Pernikoff