Bunny Talks About Allergies

Google Maps location for Lynwood Veterinary Clinic

Lynwood Veterinary Clinic
568 Metcalfe Rd
WA 6148

08 9451 3575

At this time of the year we have many animals coming into the clinic with skin and ear problems. Dogs and cats are brought in by their loving owners because they are itchy, have hair missing, their skin is red or they have sores or scabs. Many of these pets have allergies.

An allergic reaction causes the skin to become inflammed. The natural immune barrier of the skin is reduced and the normal bacteria and yeast on the skin proliferate causing infections. With chronic inflammation the skin becomes thicker and darker in colour. Scarring can occur resulting in permanent hair loss. If your pets scratching is annoying you, imagine how your pet is feeling being constantly itchy and miserable. I know how these animals are feeling, as I too suffer from allergies!

When I first came to Lynwood, it was noticed by the staff that I was overgrooming - this is the most common sign of itchiness in cats. Where dogs often scratch or chew at their skin, cats tend to just be more fastidious with their grooming to the point of developing bald patches. I would lick at an area until it was bald, red and moist. Sometimes I develop scabby sores around my head or neck as well. 

  Fleas are a common cause for skin problems in pets. Pets can be allergic to the flea saliva and the bite of just one flea can set off a hypersensitivity reaction, leading to excessive itchiness. Flea allergic pets must have regular monthly treatment with a rapid kill flea treatment such as Comfortis. As I am allergic to fleas, we need to ensure the clinic stays flea free so if your pet is admitted to hospital and is found to have fleas we will contact you about flea treatment options.

  Food allergies are another cause of skin and ear problems. Most commonly pets are allergic to a particular protein or carbohydrate source. Diagnosing a food allergy often requires a 6 week elimination diet of either Royal Canin Hypoallergenic food or a home cooked diet of a novel protein and carbohydrate. If the skin improves, then a challenge is needed to confirm that it is the cause of the irritation. If the allergen can be identified easily, it can then just be avoided. For example, even though I love to eat chicken I am not allowed to.

Contact allergens can cause skin reactions especially in areas with less hair coverage such as the stomach and between the toes. Common contact allergens include plants such as Wandering Jew and Moses-in-the-cradle. For more information on plants that can be irritant visit www.dermcare.com.au

Inhalant allergies or atopy can be the most difficult to diagnose and treat. These allergens include pollens, dust mites and other insects. Atopy is usually seasonal with peaks in Spring and Summer but some pets can show signs all year round. The environmental allergens can generally not be avoided so pets are treated with medications and topical treatments to control the allergic reaction and to treat the secondary infections caused by bacterial and yeast overgrowth. Atopic pets can also be desensitised by the use of injections that are made up for their own specific allergens. This requires referral to a dermatologist and intradermal skin testing to identify the allergens.

I am on intermittent medication to help control my atopy, as well as application of Paw Essential 6 every 2 weeks to help keep my skin healthy. Long term medications require regular check ups and monitoring to ensure they are not causing side effects. Even when allergic dermatitis is well managed, pets with allergies will have occasional flare ups that require a trip to the clinic for advice and treatment.

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