Skin Care & Allergy Testing
Many pets are plagued with skin or dermatology problems; in fact, skin issues are the most common reason that pets are presented to the veterinarian for examination. While seldom life threatening, skin conditions can be uncomfortable for your pet and perplexing for owners.
At Pound Ridge Veterinary Center, we take a systematic approach to diagnosing pet skin disorders, as so many conditions manifest, at least superficially, in similar ways. Successfully managing skin conditions is possible, but to do our best we need to know what is really going on underneath the skin.
Diagnosing Pet Skin Disorders
The most troublesome symptoms are relentless itching and scratching, upsetting for both pets and owners. Skin disorders may be the result of an infectious or non-infectious disease, parasitic infestation, or allergic reaction.
Tests we recommend to diagnosis skin disorders include:
- Skin scrapings
- Fungal or bacterial cultures
- Skin biopsies
Pets with Allergies
Pets, like people, develop allergic symptoms whenever their bodies react to certain substances. Common pet allergens include airborne pollens (grasses, weeds, and trees), food, mold spores (indoor and outdoor), and house dust mites. Some pets react to flea bites or the saliva of other biting insects as well.
Read answers to frequently asked pet allergy questions.
How can I tell if my pet has allergies?
There are many clinical signs associated with allergies. The most common are dermatologic—rashes or itching (both seasonal and non-seasonal), recurrent ear problems, gastro-intestinal signs (chronic/intermittent vomiting and/or diarrhea), or weight loss with no other obvious GI signs.
Can pet allergies be cured?
The practical goal of treatment is to reduce the level of symptoms in the patient by relieving the itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or discomfort. Most allergies are successfully managed, rather than cured.
How will you treat my pet’s allergies?
If the specific allergen can be identified, avoiding exposure helps tremendously. This is especially true for food allergies. Omega fatty acid supplementation is often recommended to help moderate the allergic response. Systemic medications, such as antihistamines, steroids, or other immune-moderating drugs, can be very useful. For inhalant allergens (like pollens, mold, and mites), hyposensitization therapy can be very helpful. Shampoos or other topical therapies are also recommended for some patients.
How do you determine what my pet is allergic to?
In cases where a food allergy is suspected, the first step is to run a food trial using a commercial hypoallergenic food or, in some cases, we may recommend a home-cooked mono-protein diet trial. During this trial, we offer protein from a single and novel source, one that cannot have generated the original clinical signs (as they were not part of the pet’s regular diet), which may help to determine the food allergy. Blood testing for allergen sensitivity helps to pinpoint inhalant allergens, such as pollens, mite, or molds, and can suggest food sensitivities as well. The results of such testing are very helpful in designing an effective treatment protocol for your pet.
Managing Pet Allergies
Dealing with allergies and other skin conditions is not always easy. Symptoms can appear and disappear, only to reappear later on, so there often is a tendency to delay a visit to the veterinarian.