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Each month, Plano veterinarian Dr. Shawn Messonnier will share his insights on topics of interest to our readers. If you have a concern you would like Dr. Shawn to address, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plano definitely has its share of itchy pets (and pet parents)! Allergies are alive and well in our fair city, especially in the spring, but fortunately pets don’t need to suffer or take strong medications to help them feel better.
Whenever I see an itchy pet, especially one that has been treated for some time for its itchiness, I always ask an important question: “Has the pet been properly diagnosed?” Often the diagnosis of “allergy” is made but never confirmed by proper testing. Many pets are misdiagnosed and mistreated for a disease they don’t even have.
Since other problems such as thyroid and adrenal disease, as well as infections (yeast and bacteria), look like allergies (or complicate proven cases of allergic dermatitis,) it’s important to do the necessary testing to make sure we properly treat the pet.
Note: Many pets with bacterial skin infections actually harbor the dangerous MRSA infection, which I’ll discuss next month. Since this can be transmitted to humans in the house, make sure to read my article next month!
Assuming the proper testing has been done and the pet has been correctly diagnosed with allergies, it’s time to think about treatment. Certainly, short-term use of mini-doses of medications like steroids can be helpful to quickly stop the pet from itching, but long-term treatment must use other therapies to prevent serious side effects from steroid use, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and adrenal disease.
Long term, there are many safer therapies including balanced antioxidants, herbal therapies such as Xiao, homeopathic medicines such as phosphorus, and high doses of fish oil. These therapies can not only reduce your pet’s discomfort, which causes itching, but can help heal the pet, reducing future episodes of itching.
It’s also important to discuss the need for frequent, even daily bathing. Frequent bathing removes allergens and infectious microorganisms from the pet’s skin, reducing inflammation, infection, and itching. Because frequent bathing can dry out a pet’s skin if the wrong shampoo is used, stick with an organic shampoo designed for frequent bathing that moisturizes the skin. And don’t forget that regularly bathing the pet can help your own allergies by reducing the allergy load on the pet’s skin and hair.
Following some simple steps will allow the correct diagnosis to be made and the proper treatment to be given to help heal your pet as well as control your pet’s itching.
Learn more about natural pet care at pawsandclawsanimalhospital.com.