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Allergies …
why bother?

3 September 2021

Scratching, chewing the skin, biting and rubbing are the most common signs that Ti-Loup is itchy. But the big question is WHY? Many pets and pet parents are bothered by this type of health problem. The main causes of itching are external parasites (fleas and mites) and allergies.

There are 3 main categories of allergies in dogs and cats: flea allergies, atopic dermatitis, and food allergies.

Most people are surprised to learn that animals with flea bite allergies have fleas, but very few numbers on their bodies. It is therefore sometimes very difficult to see them. Year-round treatment is often the only way to properly manage itching and often the first approach to take when we begin to sort out the causes of allergies.

Now let’s look at atopic dermatitis or atopy.

These are environmental allergies. Inflammation of the skin including the ears occurs in response to a variety of normally harmless substances, such as plant pollens, mites, human dander, and yes animals too can suffer from our presence, or other animals and other environmental allergens. There are typically seasonal allergies, such as hay fever in humans. Your Ti-Loup or Fluffy will therefore have itching at a very particular time in the summer. Allergy, skin or blood tests help us make a list of allergens to perform allergen-specific immunotherapy to decrease the animal’s sensitivity to the allergen. These are injections at a specific frequency and at a particular dosage in order to desensitize the body to the selected allergens.

Now let’s talk about food allergies.

They have a low percentage of allergic animals but yet we talk about it so much. It is a hypersensitivity to foods, for example to food proteins, carbohydrates or even certain preservatives or colors. There is no blood or skin test that is accurate enough to determine which food is causing allergies and thus completely stop itching. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to put your dog on a carefully selected diet or a homemade hypoallergenic diet for several weeks, which is called a food avoidance test.

This test should be performed for a period of 8 weeks. It seems easy to do, but it is not always the case. Your animal should eat this food exclusively, but without having contact with other foods. You see Ti-Loup eating something outside, you have to start the count again! Fluffy gets table food when you have visitors, you have to start the count again!

In addition, the choice of diet must be made wisely. If you choose a commercial diet, it must be made with a protein that is completely new to your pet or made from hydrolyzed protein, which means that the proteins have been cut into tiny particles making them invisible to the immune system and finally, made in a hypoallergenic factory. On the other hand, if you choose to prepare the food for this type of test yourself, you will also have to follow the recipe carefully. Note that you can only feed this type of food for a short period of time, as it is not a balanced diet. The risks of dietary deficiency are therefore higher. Medical monitoring is therefore important. As you can see, this is a tough time to go, but luckily when it comes to food allergy, treatment is often straightforward. Just feed your Ti-Loup a hypoallergenic diet and watch out for temptations. If, on the other hand, the diet has not changed anything and we are sure of the method, we can now rule out food allergies and focus on atopic dermatitis.

Why should we address the itch and not ignore it?

Irritation of the skin usually promotes the insertion of allergens into the skin which makes the itching worse. In addition, excessive biting and licking often leads to skin infections. Allergies are therefore often the underlying cause of recurrent skin and / or ear infections. Bacterial and yeast infections, although secondary to the allergy, can increase your pet’s level of itching. Excessive licking isn’t always easily noticeable, but if your pet wakes you up at night because it licks itself or has the tips of its paws with a rusty coloration of the coat rather than its true original color, it is because it is unusually itchy. You will have to consult, because it is really not pleasant for him.

Can we cure allergies?

Not really because it is a health problem that can be controlled but cannot be cured. It can sometimes get better with age but hardly ever goes away.

How can the symptoms of allergies be treated?

There are many anti-allergic drugs available to reduce itching. However, without addressing the underlying cause of the allergy, the itching will return when the drug is stopped. It is therefore for this reason that it is preferable to identify as much as possible the type of allergy (parasites versus food versus atopic dermatitis). Working to diagnose the underlying cause of the allergy and itching can reduce the need for medication and allow more specific and targeted allergy treatments to be used.

Dre Chantal Riendeau D.M.V.

It is really possible to help your Ti-Loup or your Fluffy by consulting your medical team. Do not wait any longer!

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