Bellevue Veterinary Hospital, Parksville

(250) 248-2031

Spring is in the Air


Ahh spring is in the air…the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and the never ending west coast rain seems to be lifting a bit. Well, it looks like we’re just in time for allergy season! Yes, just as you and I get to enjoy the itchy eyes and stuffy nose due to nature’s renewal after winter, some of our four legged friends also share our discomfort. Our faithful companions don’t always suffer the same as you and me. Where you and I want to sneeze and scratch our eyes out…our pets tend to get itchy, in some cases REALLY itchy!

Many dogs (and cats too) come in this time of year with skin problems that seem to have a seasonal spin on them. We see pets coming in with an insatiable desire to lick and snuffle their own feet, miserable ear infections and full blown skin infections. This occurs due to their skin’s normal defences being hypersensitive to perceived foreign substances, like pollen.

What things do we see that make us wonder about allergies (and allergic skin disease in particular?)

  • Licking and chewing at the feet, (look for the ruddy brown staining from your pet’s saliva depositing porphyrin on the fur).
  • Ear infections, not just one, but recurrent ones that don’t go away…
  • Skin infections and eruptions on the belly.
  • That excessively “doggy” smell that some dogs have (when they haven’t rolled in anything…)
  • Redness and irritation on the skin around the eyes and a habit of trying to grind the head into the ground all the time.

When we hear clients talk about these things we start to wonder if there is an allergic problem.

There are supplements, diets and medications that can help relieve some of these symptoms. Please ask your vet what they recommend.

Oh…but if my dog has allergies, it must be the food…right?

No…approximately 10-30% of allergic skin disease is due to food allergies, the other 70% can be attributed to trees, grasses and molds. 

A dietary trial can be done to see if there is a food component to your pet’s skin problem, but remember you need to be aware of what goes on when you do those things. I usually remind clients that when they are doing a dietary trial just one morsel of the wrong food can set the skin off. It can take two months for the skin to settle down after a food related skin flare so dietary trials take planning and persistence. In other words: no treats, keep the cat food out of reach of dogs, and be prepared to ride it out for two months (getting any infections under control of course) and see if Fido’s skin improves. Please ask our staff about diet options if you wish to pursue a hypoallergenic dietary trial for your pet.

Remember with any skin problem, having fleas on top of your pet’s allergies is only going to make things worse… so don’t forget the flea control. Today’s flea control methods are easy, effective and safe.

Tags: Weather,, Parasites, Skin, Allergies