By Dr. Darryl R. McElveen, MS DVM
The most common ailment seen in our hospital is itchy, infected skin. This problem is most commonly associated with one of three causes;
1. Flea allergy dermatitis due to an allergic reaction to the proteins in the saliva of the flea. The more fleas there are, the more feedings by the fleas,therefore more saliva is
injected into the pet and the allergic reaction begins causing the pet to bite and chew on itself. Getting rid of the fleas is the first step but the allergic reaction needs to be controlled to give relief.
2. Seasonal and year round inhalant allergies due to pollens from plants and molds as well as house dust and house dust mites. This condition cannot be cured but only managed and hopefully controlled. Methods used to do this have been and currently are: Steroids, Immunosuppressant drugs such as Cyclosporine, and “allergy serum” injections, which are tailored to the pets sensitivities. All of these are often used together based on the pet’s needs and responses.
3. Food allergies to certain proteins in the pet’s diet. These are often managed by controlling what the pet eats.
Recent research into the causes of the itchiness in a pet with all allergies has revealed one specific enzyme in the body which mediates or allows the itching to occur. There is a complex sequence of chemical reactions in the the body which leads to the itchy skin and ears and hence the pet scratching for relief.
In mid January we expect to have a new drug which will “block” or prevent the enzyme which allows the itchy skin to occur. It promises help for all the allergies. It appears that so far the real plus is control of the itching without using steroids or cyclosporine. It will also offer immediate relief for the pet while “allergy serums” and or diet modification have time to exert their benefits.
Please call or come see us this year if your pet suffers from any of the above. We are expecting to be able to offer the pet comfort from the itchy skin and ears and be able to “tailor” a long term plan to manage the allergies.