It is not uncommon for pets to have skin allergies. There are 4 types of skin allergies that are most concerning. Fleas, environmental pollens, foods, and contact allergies (most common to least).
When evaluating a patient for allergies, controlling fleas is the first and fastest area to address. Fleas are a constant annoyance in Southern California and your pet should be protected year round. Contact your veterinarian for appropriate flea control products. Trust me, using OTC products will only cost more money in the long run.
Environmental pollens are another big problem for this area. While people generally have respiratory problems, dogs tend to have itchy skin and ear problems. Diagnostics include a thorough patient history, exam, and allergy testing. Treatments can include frequent bathing, dietary supplementation, allergy shots (immunotherapy) and various medications. There are new medications available that are very effective at controlling itchy skin.
Food allergies are not as common as people generally think. Diagnosing a food allergy requires a very strict adherence to a very specific diet. The more the diet is changed, the more restricted the veterinarian is when designing a diet trial. Novel protein diets and hydrolyzed protein diets are the core of diagnosing food allergies but OTC diets are not acceptable options when attempting to diagnose a food allergy. Once again, your vet is your friend. Let them do what they are trained to do.
Contact allergies, while possible, are not very frequent. So, if you think your pet may be allergic to the wool rug, get rid of it!
Allergies are frequent and can range from easily solved to only manageable over a lifetime. However, the sooner they are addressed, the more likely they are to be controlled.
“Ask the Vet” is a monthly feature of the Times-Advocate brought to you by Dr. David Knox of Companion Animal Clinic. If you have a question for the Vet, please submit it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.