Franklin Vets Blog
Spring = itchy season
With spring and summer marking a time of increased itchiness in dogs, Dr Nikki Frost, senior veterinarian at Franklin Vets Pukekohe takes a deeper look at this annoying problem. Not only does the flea population explode, so does the pollen count which can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs. Unlike people where pollen allergies tend to manifest as hay fever, in dogs it tends to manifest as itchy skin and is known as atopy. Other atopic reactions can be caused by allergens like grasses, dust mites, moulds, storage mites and even the dog’s own yeast.
The typical signs are itching/scratching/licking/rubbing/chewing one or more of the following areas: feet, groin, under the tail, armpits, neck, ears and face.
Because these are allergic reactions, we can’t cure this disease, only manage it.
Avoidance is the best method, but of course, to achieve that we need to know what to avoid, and given that pollen allergy is so common, this may not be possible.
It is possible however to desensitize the animal against what they are allergic to with a process called allergen-specific immunotherapy. Traditionally we have used steroids which dampen down the immune response but these can have potential side effects, some of which can be quite serious.
Newer treatments include Apoquel as a daily anti-itch tablet that doesn’t have the side effects that steroids can have, or Cytopoint, a canine monoclonal antibody against the enzyme that creates the itch, which is given as a monthly injection.
Other important ways to control itchiness include:
• Regular good quality flea control – while some dogs can be allergic to fleas, in those who are not, one flea on an already itchy dog can send its itch into overdrive. We recommend Bravecto for its ease of use – either 3 monthly chew or 6 monthly spot-on.
• High-quality skin diet high in omega 3 fatty acids such as Royal Canin Skin Support which also contains turmeric and other ingredients designed to help repair the skins barrier function.
• Shampooing with an appropriate shampoo such as the dermatologist created Virbac range.
• Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation such as Coatex to reduce inflammation, moisturise the skin, and aid in the skin’s protective barrier.