Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Julee is happy now. Her allergies are under control.  Here is some helpful information from a good internet source on hot spots and allergies. 

ALWAYS check with your vet to see what is best for your special friend. Just because it is on the internet, does not mean it will work for your furry family. 

What Are Hot Spots? Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are red, moist, hot and irritated lesions that are typically found on a dog’s head, hip or chest area. Hot spots often grow at an alarming rate within a short period of time because dogs tend to lick, chew and scratch the affected areas, further irritating the skin. Hot spots can become quite painful.
Why Do Hot Spots Occur? 
Anything that irritates the skin and causes a dog to scratch or lick himself can start a hot spot. Hot spots can be caused by allergic reactions, insect, mite or flea bites, poor grooming, underlying ear or skin infections and constant licking and chewing prompted by stress or boredom.

When Is it Time to See the Vet? 
You should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet’s skin, or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur.
How Are Hot Spots Treated? 
First, your vet will attempt to determine the cause of hot spots. Whether it is a flea allergy, an anal gland infection or stress, the underlying issue needs to be taken care of. Treatment may also include the following:
  • Shaving of the hair surrounding the lesion, which allows air and medication to reach the wound
  • Cleansing the hot spot with a non-irritating solution
  • Antibiotics and painkillers
  • Medication to prevent and treat parasites
  • E-collar or other means to prevent self-trauma as the area heals
  • Balanced diet to help maintain healthy skin and coat
  • Dietary supplement containing essential fatty acids
  • Corticosteroids or antihistamines to control itching
  • Hypoallergenic diet for food allergies
How Can I Help Prevent Hot Spots? 
The following tips may aid in the prevention of hot spots:
  • Make sure your dog is groomed on a regular basis.
  • You may also want to keep your pet’s hair clipped short, especially during warmer months.
  • Follow a strict flea control program as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Maintain as stress-free an environment for your pet as possible.
  • To keep boredom and stress at bay, make sure your dog gets adequate exercise and opportunities for play and interaction with his human family and, if he enjoys it, with other dogs.
How Can I Make My Dog Feel More Comfortable? 
Your veterinarian will best be able to prescribe the care and medications needed to make your dog more comfortable and allow the hot spots to heal. He or she may also recommend the use of an Elizabethan collar around your dog's neck to keep her from biting and licking the lesions. Such a collar should not be used as a sole means of treatment, since the skin lesions will continue to be painful if left untreated.

What Are Allergies?
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances—or allergens— as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.
What Are the General Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?
  • Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
  • Paw chewing/swollen paws
  • Constant licking
Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.

What Substances Can Dogs Be Allergic To?
A few common allergens include:
  • Tree, grass and weed pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Dust and house dust mites
  • Dander
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Fleas and flea-control products (The bite of a single flea can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products
  • Fabrics
  • Insecticidal shampoo
  • Rubber and plastic materials
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Food?
Yes, but it often takes some detective work to find out what substance is causing the allergic reaction. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, breathing difficulties or gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, and an elimination diet will most probably be used to determine what food he is allergic to. If your dog is specifically allergic to chicken, for example, you should avoid feeding him any products containing chicken protein or fat.
Please note that food allergies may show up in dogs at any age.
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Allergies?
Visit your veterinarian. After taking a complete history and conducting a physical examination, he or she may be able to determine the source of your dog’s allergic reaction. If not, your vet will most probably recommend skin or blood tests, or a special elimination diet, to find out what's causing the allergic reaction.
How Are Dog Allergies Diagnosed?
If your dog’s itchy, red or irritated skin persists beyond initial treatment by a veterinarian, allergy testing, most often performed by a veterinary dermatologist, is likely warranted. The diagnostic test of choice is an intradermal skin test similar to the one performed on humans.
The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet exclusively for 12 weeks. The importance of not feeding your dog anything but the diet cannot be emphasized enough—that means no treats, table food or flavored medication. This diet will be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old foods to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.
Please note, many dogs diagnosed with a food allergy will require home-cooked meals—but this must be done in conjunction with your veterinarian, as it requires careful food balancing.
How Can Dog Allergies Be Treated?
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.
  • Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and the environment.
  • If dust is the problem, clean your pet's bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly—this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
  • Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.
  • If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on an exclusive prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet. Once the allergy is determined, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet.
Are There Allergy Medications for Dogs?
Since certain substances cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic reaction:
  • In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections. These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent, instead of just masking the itch.
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but may only benefit a small percentage of dogs with allergies. Ask your vet first.
  • Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.
  • An immune modulating drug may also be helpful.
  • There are several flea-prevention products that can be applied monthly to your dog’s skin.
  • If the problem is severe, you may have to resort to cortisone to control the allergy. However these drugs are strong and should be used with caution and only under the guidance of your veterinarian.

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