Thursday, September 12, 2013

Astonishing Secrets - Wollongong pets need solutions to the itchiness

Welcome to another Astonishing Secret - this is about what you can do at home to help your itching
"Do ya wanna know a secret?"
pet cope with the high pollen count until you can get them to the vet hospital.  A reminder that this is not to replace a vet visit, but to make sure your pet is as comfortable as you can make them until we can see them.

As a vet, I have access to alot of information and knowledge about itching pets, but experience tells me that what may work great in one pet, may not in another.  At the vet check, we can assess what is a good first thing to do.  Reality is, I tend to find I get a better outcome (that is a pet with controlled skin, long term) if I have an owner committed to ongoing rechecks, so we can tweak the management plan. Of course, I am talking about those pets who suffer from allergies or infections as a cause of their itchies!

Have you noticed that during spring and summer, our weather reports also include a pollen count?  That is because people suffer from pollen allergies.  Whilst dogs and cats are not little people, their immune systems can have similar reactions. So, this is all about what you can do to help reduce the "pollen" impact on your pet.

What signs might you see if grasses and pollens are causing the itching problem in our Wollongong pets?

In dogs, we might see
- itchy feet
- swollen, itchy ears
- red muzzle
- rashes that come and go on the abdomen
- patchy hair loss
- excessive general scratching (but you don't see fleas).
- increased scooting (rubbing their bottoms along the ground)

"Ooh, just there, that's the spot" 
In cats - we might see
- excessive grooming (and fur balls as a result)
- scratching around the head and neck
- small bumps along the body or lower legs

In rabbits - we see
- scurfy skin (looks like someone has dusted them with coconut flakes)
- hair loss
- excessive scratching around the neck.

What can you do at home to help your pet until you can get them into seeing us?

One bit can get your pet itching for hours!
Like when you get bitten by a mosquito!
1. Flea control is essential -

Even though they may not be the cause of your pet's itchiness, we do know that they can make things worse.  What if you don't see any fleas?  Well, treat for them anyway. Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean that one is not floating around causing a bit of grief here and there. 

Avoid flea rinses or flea shampoos as they can make things worse.

 I recommend Frontera Spray or Frontline Spray for dogs and cats.  I prefer these sprays as they will cover fleas (up to 3 months), lice and sarcoptes mites, as well as provide protection against ticks for 3 weeks.  For rabbits, you can use Bayer's Advocate, Advantage or Zoetis' product, Revolution each 2 weeks.

These are perfect for itchy pets with
skin infections, but they are not
for every pet! Ask your vet first!
2. Have a good look at the shampoos you are using.

Could they be making things worse? Are you using a conditioner?  If you aren't, you should be.  Visit our website for more detailed information on choosing the right shampoo for your pet.

We are big fans of PAW Nutriderm conditioner, but some of the human rinses can also help.  Why not look at Alpha Keri Oil, Dermaveen or QV ointments. They may help some pets (not all).

 A note to remember - avoid lotions (they can make things worse).   It might be some trial and error on finding the right shampoo and conditioner for your pet, but don't give up.  I have had a case where the only treatment that helped was a $5 bar of lanolin shampoo from the local Sunday markets. 

3. Nutrition plays an important part in the overall health of your pet.

But don't expect a change in food to stop your pet from itching immediately. Food allergies are difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. When I talk about nutrition and skin problems, it is to ensure that the pet has all the ingredients it needs for its immune system to help cope with irritated skin, with extra stuff to minimise its reactivity to irritants.  Look for the sensitive skin range at your vet hospital, or local pet shop.  The only favourite thing I suggest the food has - free from preservatives, high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids.  Many times, I usually lean towards the fish based foods for this reason.

4. Careful use of antihistamines -

Antihistamines are widely used, including us, but every time we suggest their use, we always tell loving pet owners that they will only help 1 in 3 pets.  Whilst they are overall safe, they are not risk free either. You need to know your pet's weight and their medical history, to ensure that there are no contraindications in using these medications. 

Keen to know more? Visit our website for a antihistamine dose chart guide.

I am Dr Liz, and whilst I love spring and summer, for the glorious long days, I don't like it as I get to see many itchy pets.  Fortunately, I have solutions for the short term and long term management for itchy pets, but I don't have "instant forever" solutions. For your pet to benefit from these solutions, make sure you call us to make an appointment, and let Dirk know it is for an itchy pet - that way we can ensure we allot sufficient time to cover everything properly.

Our website does have a "Skin Management" page, which we try to keep current. Why not check it out?

Call us on 02 42 845988 or you can book online at