Mosman Vet Blog

Apr 13

Written by: Mosman Vet
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 

There are three main causes of itch with pets:

  1. External parasites, especially fleas.  There are some excellent flea products these days. The recent generation of long acting oral products like Comforts (dogs and cats), Nexgard and Bravecto (dogs only) are highly effective (combined with environment control). External parasites to also consider include sarcoptic and ear mites (among others). A trial may be advised with “spot-on” topical products like Revolution and Advocate. Your veterinarian may advise a skin scraping to check for the demodectic mange mite.
  2. Secondary infections. Bacterial, yeast (Malassezia) and dermatophyte (ringworm) infections can cause debilitating itch and skin disease. Your veterinarian may take a “tape prep” for microscopic examination and sometimes a fungal culture. Medicated shampoos, other topical products and oral medications can relieve itch greatly.
  3. Hypersensitivities (allergies). This includes atopic dermatitis, also called atopy (an allergic reaction to airborne allergens like pollens, house dust and mites and moulds), adverse food reactions (“diet allergies”) and contact allergy. Your veterinarian may suggest a food elimination trial, which can improve some dogs dramatically, but diet allergy is much less common than atopy.  Referral for skin testing may be advised to identify offending “airborne” allergens causing atopy and to formulate a long course of desensitizing “vaccine” injections (allergen specific immunotherapy). This “gold standard” treatment takes a lot of commitment and is not for everyone, but can be very successful in approximately 70% of dogs with atopy. Alternatively, many excellent drugs exist for relief of allergy symptoms. Antihistamines can (rarely) ease signs, while cortisones are highly effective but side effects need to be considered. Cyclosporine (“Atopica”) can be very useful with atopy. Recently a brand new drug called oclacitinib (“Apoquel”) has been released and early results indicate a dramatic improvement in even long term allergy sufferers.

The key point is that allergies cannot be cured, but with cooperation and shared care between owner and veterinarian the quality of life of pets with allergies can be greatly improved.

 

Article Written By Dr Chris Mather, Mosman Veterinary Hospital

 

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