6. September 2011
Allergies, whether they are due to fleas, food, or environmental agents, are caused by the immune system overreacting, NOT a weakened immune system, a common client misconception. Studies have shown that animals with flea allergic dermatitis cannot be desensitized for fleas, so the only treatment is avoidance. The same is true of animals with food allergies.
How do I perform a proper food trial?
Currently, there's no accurate blood or skin test that can diagnose whether a pet has a food allergy. The only way a veterinarian can make a diagnosis is to change the pet's food to an appropriate elimination food-trial diet for eight to 12 weeks. This is done by feeding an elimination diet containing an unusual protein and carbohydrate source that the pet hasn't been exposed to, or by feeding a diet in which the proteins are hydrolyzed (made smaller) so the immune system won't recognize them. During this eight- to 12-week period, the food-trial diet must be fed without the addition of table scraps, treats, or chewable supplements, including flavored heartworm preventives. The only way to successfully perform a food trial is for clients to be strict about what the pet is allowed to eat.
The reason the trial must last so long is that some pets won't show improvement until up to three months after being off their original food. It is always recommended to gradually switch to the new diet during a three- to five-day period. Fresh water should never be withheld and always available free choice. The veterinarian in charge of the case will determine if treats are allowed and, if so, which ones.
3. May 2011
Like us, our animal companions – dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits to name but a few – can suffer from seasonal allergies. In fact, allergy-related problems have been topping the list of claims to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (VPI) for the past few years. The most common allergy-related claims are submitted for skin conditions such as pyoderma (hot spots), ear infections, bronchitis/asthma and inflammation or infection of the eyes.
- Symptoms of allergies in pets include
- Chewing on paws or other reachable body parts
- Scratching excessively
- Recurring ear infections
- Hair loss, and raw and inflamed skin
Our number one suggested treatment for Hot Spots is Zymox HC cream or ointments with Hydrocortisone.
Another product that works well for general scratching all over is CortiSoothe Shampoo or
ResiCORT Conditioner, both with 1% Hydrocortisone.