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  • Jo De Klerk

    Seasonal Allergies

    My poor girl is so itchy! I have a 6-year old Westie called Misty, and she’s been itchy since a very young dog. The vet has always told me it is allergies, which make sense because the summer is the worst time, but I just can’t get on top of it. Help! – Sasha

    Sorry to hear Misty is so itchy Sasha. It’s a very common problem for Westies to have skin allergies. But nevertheless, it’s always worth ruling out parasites first. Just double check it’s not fleas, and if you haven’t given a flea preventative treatment recently, then pop one of those on her.

    You have quite a lot of options with treating allergies, which may sound like a good thing, but actually that means there isn’t really one particular treatment which works best. The first thing to start with is to make sure she is on a good quality hypo-allergenic food. Most allergic dogs have multiple allergies, and that can be to food or allergens in the environment. So, removing the allergens in the food is a good start.

    Next, make sure she is receiving a good quality omega oil supplement. This should ideally be one which is specifically formulated for itchy dogs as then it will have the correct ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 oils. When these are in a ratio of 1:3, then they have wonderful anti-inflammatory effects. In addition to this, they help improve the quality of the skin barrier.

    Then, there are medications you can try. You should try to avoid steroids if possible. Yes, they are cheap, and very effective at bringing down the itchiness, but they have horrible side effects. They can have major impacts on the liver and the kidneys, as well as make Misty feel very hungry and thirsty. There are other medications though, such as Atopica, which bring down the immune reaction to the allergens, and as a result help with the itching. Like with allergies in humans, you can also give anti-histamines to help with the itching. Your vet will be able to prescribe you what he thinks is best though.

    Finally, there is also the option of allergy testing to see what she’s allergic to. This is usually done with a blood test, but it can sometimes not be very accurate. But with the results, you should be able to decide whether it is possible to avoid the allergens. If not, a vaccine can then be made against what she is allergic to, using these results, which your vet can give to her at regular intervals. The vaccine can be costly, and not 100% effective, but for some animals, it is an excellent solution to their allergies.

    So, as I’m sure you’ve gathered from this, there are lots of different options, and most work great for some dogs and not others, and so it is a matter of trial and error to see which ones will work for Misty.

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    Jo De Klerk

    Jo is a graduate of the Royal Veterinary College, London. She has a Masters degree in Tropical Animal Health, and has spent most of her career working in mixed veterinary practice.

    Recently, she has become involved in one of the UK’s fastest growing veterinary telemedicine services for dogs and cats.

    She is a published author of several books, and enjoys working as a freelance veterinary writer around her clinical work.

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