FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media release: 9th October, 2012
Pets are Suffering this Spring
Spring brings the unwelcome symptoms of hay fever to many Australians; but a leading Vet has warned many animals are suffering from allergies this season, too.
Dr Mark Perissinotto, head vet at VetShopAustralia.com.au
explains that many Aussie pets suffer from allergies.
“Instead of the itchy eyes and nose symptoms experienced by their owners; our pet’s skin suffers from allergies, usually becoming excruciatingly itchy,” Dr Perissinotto said.
The causes of skin allergies in pets range from parasites, fungal infections, exposure to plants, elements in their environment or chemicals, to dietary issues and genetics.
“It is vital to identify the cause of your pet’s allergic reaction to offer them the most appropriate relief from their itchy skin,” Dr Perissinotto said.
The warming spring weather signifies the start of the flea season; when fleas develop quickly. The parasites bite the skin of the host animal, sucking their blood.
“Many pets are actually allergic to the flea’s saliva. This condition is known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD),” Dr Perissinotto said.
The symptoms of FAD affect pets’ skin; causing it to appear red, smelly, hot to touch, seriously itchy and pustules or crusts may also form.
“There are many flea control products on the market which offer pets relief from the symptoms of FAD. Pet owners can be proactive by using these same flea treatments each month, to prevent their pet from contracting fleas in the first place; ensuring they never experience FAD,” Dr Perissinotto said.
While spring may tempt many Australians to spend time outdoors with their pets; pet owners should first consider their surrounding environment, Dr Perissinotto advises.
“Exposure to elements in the environment can cause pets to experience skin allergies; by either direct contact, or inhalation.”
“For example, fungal organisms are usually present in soil rich in animal faeces, dust, mould or grass; and can lead to infection in our pets,” Dr Perissinotto said.
Different types of fungal infections may cause a variety of allergic reactions in pets including itchy skin, skin lesions, or red, raised sections of skin and hair loss.
Unfortunately, fungi aren’t the only cause of skin allergy in pets who enjoy the outdoors.
“Pets may be allergic to plants such as grass, hydrangeas, rhododendron, lilies, the bulbs of daffodils, tulips and more. There are also airborne allergens such as pollen and dust and for pets who like to swim; the moisture on their skin can also cause itchy skin.”
Dr Perissinotto recommends pet owners groom their pets daily, especially after being outdoors, to ensure any allergens or dirt is promptly removed their coat.
“It’s also important to consider what shampoos are used when washing pets, as many contain irritants or harsh chemicals which can deplete their ceramides and fatty acids; which are the key to keeping your pet’s skin in healthy condition,” Dr Perissinotto said.
But it’s not only the elements in a pet’s surrounding environment that can cause skin allergies. Dr Perissinotto cautions that it can be what they swallow.
“Food allergies are common in pets.”
A pet’s immune system may overreact to a particular substance, releasing histamine which makes their skin itch.
“Common sources of food allergy in pets are meat, wheat, beets, yeast, soy and tomatoes. Dyes, preservatives, chemicals and the corn added to most commercial pet foods can also cause an allergic reaction.”
Genetics can also play a part in a pet’s susceptibility to skin allergy. Owners of German Shepherds, Retrievers and Terriers should be particularly vigilant when watching for signs of skin allergy in their pets.
“Skin allergy is a serious business and pet owners should be on the alert as spring marks the start of the itchy pet season,” Dr Perissinotto said.