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Seasonal Allergies
Friday, July 6, 2018
  By: Kingsdale Animal Hospital  In: Pet Health
"Why is my dog so itchy in the spring and summer?"
This is a very common question we get asked this time of year.

Spring and summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors and relax in the sunshine. With the warm weather, however, comes the bloom of allergens. Many pets suffer from seasonal environmental allergies to various pollens, moulds, and mites, just like people. Common manifestations of these allergies include itchy skin and ear infections. Some pets also experience runny eyes and sneezing like people do.

In pets who are prone to allergies, the skin barrier has tiny defects (little holes between the cells), instead of being tight with each cell completely touching its neighbours. This allows the allergens to get inside the skin barrier and reach immune cells carrying IgE. IgE is an immune protein in all of our bodies that is responsible for the allergy-mediating part of the immune system. When an allergen reaches the IgE, it stimulates the immune system to bring inflammatory cells to the skin which secrete various inflammatory cell mediators, causing itchiness. Inside pets' ears and on the surface of their skin the inflammation may also lead to secondary bacterial and yeast infections. You may notice excessive redness of the skin, crusts or sores, thickened skin, hair loss or sometimes just really itchy skin without any redness!

An animal's ear should be pink-tan in colour and have no odour. An infected ear is one that is red, smelly, and/or has discharge. Your pet may be uncomfortable when you touch their ear or try to look in it. Often you will see them shaking their head, scratching their ear with their paw, or rubbing their ear on the ground or furniture.

Although any breed of dog may be affected by seasonal allergies, the breeds that are especially prone to it include:

American cocker spaniel
Bichon frise
Bull terrier
Cairn terrier
Cavalier King Charles spaniel
French bulldog
German shepherd dog
Golden retriever
Great Dane
Irish setter
Jack Russell terrier
Labrador retriever
Rhodesian ridgeback
Silky terrier
West Highland white terrier

There are various management options for dogs and cats with seasonal allergies. There are antihistamines, anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids, anti-itch medication, shampoos, skin support diets, and immune-modulating injections or allergy shots. For ear infections most dogs require topical ear drops, and some require additional oral medication. We also have medications that we instill into your dog's ear for you so you don't have to do it at home! If you think your pet is experiencing seasonal allergies or an ear infection please give us a call to book an appointment and we can discuss the various management options with you. At the appointment we will discuss the various options and which one works best for your pet's allergies and lifestyle. 

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