One of the most frequent causes of client dissatisfaction is when they come to the vet with an itchy pet (skin, ears, paws, etc.). Skin problems in pets can be life long and in some cases difficult to manage. It is therefore not surprising that it is a common source of frustration between pet owners and veterinarians.
Often the problem may well have an allergic basis however there are other conditions in which cause pets to itch. Once those other causes (besides allergies) of itching have been ruled out its important to understand pets will likely require lifelong therapy of some sort for their allergy.
There are a number of pathways we can take to help elevate the cause of the itching in your pet. If you would like to work out exactly what your pet is allergic to we can perform a blood test, or a skin test. Once we have the results from those tests we will have a comprehensive list of what your pet is allergic too. This will allow you to put in place procedures to keep your pet away from those things that they are allergic too and based on these results, your vet can then commence customised desensitising injections. These injections can take many months to begin helping and in many cases they are very successful.
There is also the option of treating the symptoms (the itching). Using a low allergy shampoo to remove the allergens and sooth the skin is one part of what is usually a multi pronged approach. We recommend after bathing applying a 10% solution of QV oil and water to the skin and coat. The QV oil reinforces the natural barriers that are often not functioning well in patients with allergic skin disease. This can be done fortnightly.
You can also trial antihistamines such as zyrtec, clarantyne, etc. These antihistamines can be quite helpful in some patients, and strangely some patients respond well to particular antihistamines and not others, so it is worthwhile getting a chart from our hospital which shows all the different antihistamines and their doses so you can work out which one is best for your pet. If you find that these are still not working then we may need to consider using medications such as, cortisone creams, cortisone tablets or cyclosporine.
All medications carry some risk of side effects, and you need to have these carefully explained to you by the veterinarian. It is also worth mentioning the possibility that your pet is allergic to multiple things, including something in the diet. Dietary allergies can be managed with specific foods and food trials and usually take 6-8 weeks to show signs of improvement.
We recommend that if you have an itchy pet to keep a diary of your pets flare ups. You should record the weather, time of year, if they had been for a walk, what flea control they are on, when the last dose of flea control was given, what type of food they are eating, etc.
It is also very important that you establish a relationship with a particular vet and try and see that same person when required. There are always costs involved with managing complex problems like this, but if you understand what is happening and follow a carefully mapped out plan of action then you are far more likely to succeed and far less likely to get frustrated. WellPet Vets have a large team of vets that can help, when you call for an appointment you can ask to see your preferred vet and the receptionist will ensure you are booked in with him or her at a time that suites you.
This article is in this weeks Vet Report in Nepean News: