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Skin and Allergy Problems in Dogs
« : Апрель 10, 2007, 12:01:14 pm »
Introduction
The most common medical complaint we see in dogs is skin or ear related. Unlike humans who react to allergens with nasal symptoms, dogs react with skin problems. These problems may range from poor coat texture or length, to itching and chewing, to hot spots and self mutilation. Allergies may also play a part in chronic ear infections. To make matters more difficult to diagnose and treat, thyroid disease may add to the problem as well.

In order to overcome these frustrating symptoms your approach needs to be thorough and systematic. Shortcuts usually will not produce results and only add to owner frustration. This article will cover diagnosing and treating; inhalant, food, and flea allergies. I will also briefly discuss thyroid disease and immune mediated disorders.

Remember, your best source of information is your vet. Many vets are now recognizing the need for holistic allergy treatment instead of the tried and true (and possibly ineffective or dangerous) standby of corticosteroids. If your vet is not helpful, keep looking until you find someone you are comfortable with. You need to remember though, that the success or failure of treatment will rest mainly on you. There is no magic pill to deal with these problems. Unfortunately, there is also no "cure", only systematic treatment options. Much of the information below is taken from "Guide to Skin and Haircoat Problems in the Dog" by Lowell Ackerman, DMV.
Inhalant Allergies
Substances which can cause an allergic reaction in dogs are much the same as those which cause reactions in people including pollens, dust mites and molds. A clue to diagnosing these allergies is to look at the timing of the reaction. Does it happen year round? This may be mold or dust. If the reaction is seasonal, pollens may be the culprit.

Symptoms of inhalant allergies include: SCRATCHING, BITING, CHEWING AT FEET AND CONSTANT LICKING. The itching may be most severe on feet, flanks, groin and armpits. Dogs may rub their face on the carpet. Ear flaps may become red and hot. Chronic ear infections may follow. Skin becomes thickened, greasy and has a strong odor. Hot spots may develop due to irritation from constant chewing or scratching, which is then followed by infection. Allergies have also been implicated as a possible cause of Acral Lick Granulomas, a frustrating, treatment resistant condition whereby the dog creates a sore on his skin from constant licking
DIAGNOSIS
If a dog has the above symptoms and responds well to the treatment measures outlined below, no further diagnostic tests may be needed. If the problem is severe and does not respond to simple measures, allergy skin testing can be done. A portion of the skin is shaved and a variety of substances are injected into the skin to see if they provoke a reaction. If so, an individual series of injections are formulated to give the dog over a period of time (there are blood tests designed to identify allergens without the skin testing, however their efficacy had not been proven. They should be reserved for cases where skin testing is not possible).
TREATMENT OPTIONS
Symptomatic Therapy
Treating the dogs symptoms may include; cool baths with or without colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts, or medicated shampoos. This can be done frequently but provides only temporary relief. Caution should be used with sprays and ointments because many contain potentially harmful substances. According to Dr. Ackerman, Dermacool is a safe spray containing witch hazel. Cortispray is a low dose, nonsystemic cortisone spray which can be safely used for short periods of time.

Immunotherapy
Allergy shots are very safe and many people have great success with them, however, they are very slow to work. It may be six to twelve months before improvement is seen. I spoke with Dr. Christine Johnson, a veterinarian with the dermatology department of the University of Pennsylvania, about intradermal skin testing for inhalant allergies. She reports the average success rate is 70-75%. This rate is for dogs showing any improvement at all. At U of P. the cost for the procedure is $69.00 for the exam, $122.00 for the sedation and testing, and $85.00 for the first 5 months worth of vaccine. After that vaccines are purchased in 7 month supply for $65.00. Substances that are tested include cats(!), feathers, wool, molds, dust, trees, insects, plants and pollens. Before testing, your pet must be free from all steroids, oral or injected (including those found in ear and eye medicines) for a specified period of time in order for the test to be valid. In all about 60 different substances are tested for.

Corticosteroids
These compounds reduce itching by reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, they also affect every organ in the body. According to Dr. Ackerman, steroids should be considered only when the allergy season is short, the amount of drug required is small or as a last resort to relieve a dog in extreme discomfort. Side effects can include increased thirst and appetite, increased need to urinate and behavioral changes. Long term use can result in diabetes, decreased resistance to infection and increased susceptibility to seizures. You can recognize steroids by the suffix "-one", such as cortisone, dexamethasone, prednisone..etc.. In short, alternatives to steroid therapy should always be considered.

Antihistamines
Antihistamines can be used with relative safety in dogs. About one third of owners report success with them. The major drawback, as with people, is sedation. Dr. Ackerman recommends that a minimum of three different types of antihistamines be tried before owners give up on this therapy. According to Dr. Johnson, the most common problem with this type of treatment is that owners give the drugs at doses that are too low. Check with your vet on correct dosing. Examples of antihistamines commonly used for dogs include: Tavist, Benadryl, Chlortrimeton, Atarax and Seldane. Personally, I have seen the best results with Atarax.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory agents. They reportedly are helpful in 20% of allergic dogs. My own experience puts this figure a little higher. They are certainly worth a try because they are not harmful and have virtually no side effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils (especially krill and cod) and omega-6 fatty acids are derived from plants containing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), such as oil from the evening primrose. These supplements are different from those sold to produce a glossy coat. They tend to reduce inflammation that may lead to skin sores but are not as effective in reducing itching. Products that contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include: Omega Pet, Derm Caps, and EFA-Z Plus.

Environmental Control
If you know which substances your dog is allergic to avoidance is the best method of control. Even if you are desensitizing the dog with allergy shots, it is best to avoid the allergen altogether. Molds can be reduced by using a dehumidifier or placing activated charcoal on top of the exposed dirt in your house plants. Dusts and pollens are best controlled by using an air cleaner with a HEPA filter. Air conditioning can also reduce circulating amounts of airborne allergens because windows are then kept closed.

Prevention
While there is nothing you can do to prevent a rescue dog from developing allergies, breeders should be aware that allergic dogs SHOULD NOT BE BRED!!! Dr. Johnson confirmed that there is clinical proof that allergies are inherited!
Food and Flea Bite Allergies
The previous section of this article dealt with atopy or inhalant allergies. This article will deal with food allergies or to be more precise, food sensitivities. Much of the information presented here is drawn from "Hair and Skincoat Problems in the Dog" by Lowell Ackerman D.V.M. and an interview with Dr. Scott Krick of the VCA Sinking Spring Veterinary Hospital. Food allergies account for only about 10% of allergy problems in dogs, however they are easily treated so it makes sense to test for them if you suspect they may be the culprit of your dog's skin problems.

Like inhalant allergies, food sensitivities primarily manifest themselves with itchy skin. Other symptoms include anal itching, shaking of the head, ear inflammations, licking front paws, rubbing faces on carpeting and rarely vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, sneezing, asthma like symptoms, behavioral changes or seizures. Many people don't suspect food allergies as the cause of their dog's itching because their pet has been fed the same food all its life and has just recently started having symptoms. However, animals can develop allergies to a substance over time, so this fact does not rule out food allergies. Another common misconception is that dogs are only sensitive to poor quality food. If the dog is allergic to an ingredient it doesn't matter whether it is in premium food or the most inexpensive brand on the market. One advantage to premium foods is that some avoid common fillers that are often implicated in allergic reactions.
DIAGNOSIS
Dogs are not allergic to a dog food per se, rather they react to one or more of the ingredients in the food. Some of the most common culprits are beef, pork, chicken, milk, whey, eggs, fish, corn, soy, wheat and preservatives. Many animals are now developing allergies to lamb as well. This was once thought to be very hypo-allergenic, but the more it is used, the more sensitivities are springing up.

The first step in diagnosing a food allergy is to eliminate all possible allergens and feed ONLY a homemade diet with ingredients the dog has never eaten before. The diet should be a protein and a starch. Good examples are one part lamb, rabbit or venison mixed with two parts rice or potatoes. NOTHING else can be fed during this time; no biscuits, chewable heartworm pills, chew toys or any table scraps!! You must also keep the dog away from feces if he or she is prone to eating stool.

This diet should only to be fed for a short period, while testing for allergies. It is not nutritionally complete enough for long term use. Check with your veterinarian before beginning the test. If the symptoms improve during the trial diet, go back to the original food for several days. If symptoms reoccur you know that something in the food is causing the reaction. The next step is to return to the trial diet and add one new ingredient a week (i.e. add beef for one week and if no symptoms occur add corn the next week for one week).

Once you have discovered the allergen you can look for a commercial food which does not contain that ingredient. According to Dr. Ackerman, approximately 80% of dogs with food allergies can be maintained on a commercial hypo-allergenic diet. Some of the common hypoallergenic diets include "Nature's Recipe", "Sensible Choice" and "Natural Life". "Nature's Recipe" makes a lamb and rice food, a venison and rice diet and a vegetarian diet, none contain chemical preservatives. "Natural Life" also makes a preservative free, lamb and rice food called Lamaderm. "Sensible Choice" is a third brand that is considered hypoallergenic because it contains neither wheat or corn and comes in a lamb and rice formulation.

Note: just because a food is labeled "Lamb and Rice" do not assume it is hypoallergenic. Many contain wheat, corn, soy, beef or preservatives. This process of elimination is trying and time consuming. You should be aware that it may take up to 10 weeks to see an improvement. However, it is the best method available to test for food allergies. You may wish to try switching your dog to one of the foods listed above for a month as a trial. If the dog shows improvement you know you are dealing with a food sensitivity, you just won't know which ingredient to avoid. If there is no improvement, you will need to begin the elimination testing.
Flea Allergies
This type of reaction, again usually severe itching, is not to the flea itself but rather to proteins in its saliva. Dr. Ackerman writes that dogs most prone to this problem, interestingly enough, are not dogs who are constantly flea ridden, but those who are exposed only occasionally! A single bite can cause a reaction for five to seven days, so you don't need a lot of fleas to have a miserable dog.

To test for flea allergies, a skin test is performed which must be read in fifteen minutes and again in forty eight hours. Unfortunately injections to desensitize are not very effective because it is hard to collect enough flea saliva to make a serum!

For dogs with this problem a strict flea control regime must be maintained. We would caution you, however, against using strong chemical preparations on your dog. Often times the flea control program produces more harmful effects than the fleas, including seizures and skin problems, so please use caution.
Third section, coming soon!

http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/c ... rgies.html
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Re: Skin and Allergy Problems in Dogs
« Ответ #1 : Апрель 10, 2007, 12:37:55 pm »
Dealing with the Allergic Bichon


Allergies can occur in any breed but most often seem to trouble white breeds. The Bichon is no exception. Allergies in dogs can be food related but are more likely to be associated with inhalants. Dogs can be tested for specific allergies; however it can be difficult to avoid the trees, grasses and molds that are a part of the environment. Therefore it becomes logical to try to treat the allergy in the most effective way.

We would make it very clear that dealing with allergies has to be done in cooperation with your veterinarian. He must prescribe any medications used and you may need to purchase some products from him, such as special shampoos and food additives. You need to work with your groomer as well.

It is probably more important that the dog be well rinsed than to use a medicated shampoo with mild allergies. You may have to experiment with different brands of shampoos and conditioners to find the best for your dog. Do not let the dog get matted because that extra brushing and pulling of hair to get out the mats only further irritates the skin. Avoid excessive heat when blow-drying for the same reason (there are forced air dryers that make it unnecessary to use any heat).

Allergies tend to be seasonal (pollens occur primarily in spring and fall). Your main focus on medications will be during the worse times. You should try to control the "itches" without a lot of medication whenever possible. A voice command with a strong "no!" when the dog begins to scratch can help. Scratching can become a habit, as can licking the feet. Boredom can add to these behaviors so avoid leaving the dog alone for hours at a time. (Bichons do not make good "home alone" dogs! They like their people around.) Keep the dog inside with air conditioning as much as possible.

Licking and chewing can often be discouraged by the use of certain sprays that act as a deterrent.  These taste bad to the dog and he does not go after the itchy spot as often because of the bad taste.  One product that can be found almost any place has "bitter" in the name but must not be very bitter because it does not seem to work as well as other products.  You may want to try it as it seems to be harmless and is readily available.  The #1 favorite for most breeders and exhibitors is a product called tea tree spray or melaleuca alternifolia.  It is supposed to have healing qualities as well as discouraging the dog from biting or licking himself due to the bad taste.  Such products are over-the-counter and may be found at pet supply stores or ordered through pet supply catalogs.

Flea allergy is another problem altogether.  While the treatment for the allergy is the same, it is important to rid the house and the dog of fleas or treating the allergy will not help.  There are many products available from your veterinarian to prevent flea infestation as well as shampoos to rid the dog of existing fleas.  However the home must be treated and all bedding washed to prevent fleas from returning.  The yard can be sprayed to rid the grass of fleas. Your vet can also advise you on proper procedures.  It is critical to the welfare of the dog that you are very careful in how you use these products.  Each of them is a poison and can kill your dog if you combine several at one time.  

Fleas can be one cause of hot spots.  A hot spot (also called moist dermatitis) is a localized reaction to some allergic condition.  Hot spots can also occur from repeated biting of the skin to relieve itch.  If the hot spot is treated quickly it may disappear within a day or two.  One method of treating the spot in its early stage is to dust it with medicated powder several times a day.  These products are readily available over the counter (not foot powder) and they dry the moisture and soothe the itch.  Creams and ointments tend to keep the area moist and are not as effective, though a prescribed ointment may be needed if the area becomes infected.  At this stage, the hot spot needs to be seen by a veterinarian for  treatment.

Now let's get to the medications used for allergies. Pet owners want an instant fix and are not tolerant of vets who require return visits. Therefore, vets will give that quick fix by prescribing steroids for allergies. You probably have had at least one prescription for prednisone to be given over about 10 days, with the last doses being given on alternate days - or some similar schedule. This is the quick fix that pet owner’s demand.  However, you are setting up your Bichon to have serious problems later in life if you do this repeatedly. A steroid given over and over affects the balance of cortisol in the body, resulting in a condition called Cushings Syndrome.

Remember there are certain times when steroids are necessary and have to be given. Treating simple allergies can be done without overmedicating. You administer a single dose of prednisone, followed by antihistamines. The single dose breaks the itch habit by soothing the skin, allowing the antihistamines to be effective. Together with your veterinarian, you can determine which antihistamine works best for your Bichon. If you have to give the pred once or twice  a month during allergy season, this will not be enough to affect the natural production of cortisol. Fatty acid supplements may be useful, too. Ask your vet to prescribe one.

The dog that is highly allergic may need skin testing to determine his specific allergy.  There are veterinary dermatologists who can best treat the severely allergic Bichon and they can be found at university veterinary hospitals or in major cities.  Your veterinarian will help you to locate such a specialist.  There are also many special diets that can be fed to dogs that are food allergic.  However frequently changing the diet on your own may only increase the allergic response.  It has been found that allergies are made worse when the dog’s diet is changed often early in life.  The primary cause of the allergy is the protein source and each change sets up a response in the immune system so that eventually there is no food left that the dog can tolerate.

A condition that is not an allergy is called immotile cilia syndrome (or Kartagener's syndrome) and may mimic pneumonia, kennel cough, distemper or just be a chronic runny nose.  This autoimmune condition must be treated by a specialist who understands this inherited condition.

One symptom that pet owners often fear is allergy is reverse sneezing.  The dog snorts and seems to be choking while repeatedly “honking” and sneezing.  The cause for this condition is unknown and it can be stopped by either massaging the dog’s throat or by pinching the nostrils together for a brief time until the episode is over.  The condition is not dangerous to the dog.

It is critical to your allergic dog’s health and comfort that the best treatment for your particular pet is found.  Your veterinarian is the best source for information.  Together you CAN control the problem. Good luck!

http://www.bichon.org/allergy.htm
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Re: Skin and Allergy Problems in Dogs
« Ответ #2 : Апрель 10, 2007, 12:48:04 pm »
If you happen to notice that your Bichon Frise is scratching excessively, you may find that your pet is having an allergic reaction. Like humans, dogs can develop allergies suddenly. It could be that your Bichon is allergic to fleas, pollen, mold, or even trees or tobacco smoke. When you see your Bichon scratching themselves and chewing on their skin, you’ll want to make sure you get them to the veterinarian before they cause any damage to their skin and infection sets in.

The following are some common types of allergies your Bichon Frise may have and some common methods of treating them.

Flea Allergies
Your Bichon’s allergy to fleas is not an allergy to the flea itself, but an allergic reaction from the flea’s saliva. A dog that is not allergic might have a slight skin irritation from flea bites, but when they are allergic, it causes excessive itching and irritation. This, of course, causes your Bichon to chew, lick, and scratch themselves so badly they will lose hair and possibly have open sores or scabs, which can lead infection.

The obvious treatment for your Bichon with a flea allergy is to keep the fleas off them using a vet approved flea repellent and by using a flea comb daily. In extreme cases, a pet can be desensitized to the effects of flea bites by having flea saliva injected into the skin in small amounts over time. If this works, your Bichon would not have such intense reactions to flea bites. This method, however, only works less than 75% of the time.

Inhalant Allergy
While humans generally have respiratory problems when they have an allergic reaction to something they’ve breathed in, your Bichon Frise will have symptoms of severe itching. Trying to find out exactly what your dog is allergic to is tough to do. You can have allergy testing done on your Bichon, but you may find that you and your vet may have to guess according to what specific plants are blooming at the time your dog developed the symptoms. There have been cases with Bichons and other dogs that they are simply allergic to grass. In this case, you may want to have a concrete area for your Bichon to relieve themselves on so they stay out of the grass.

The great thing about inhalant allergies is that you don’t have to know exactly what they are allergic to in order to provide them with treatment. One very common treatment is to give your Bichon frequent baths with a hypoallergenic shampoo. This may reduce the amount of allergens that are absorbed through the skin and it will help to relieve the itching. Anti-inflammatory drugs will also help to stop the allergic reactions and antihistamines used with other treatments can be effective, although they can cause your dog to be drowsy. Steroids can also be used to help your pet and all of these should only be given with your veterinarian’s approval. If you know what your pet is allergic to, you can also use the desensitization method, however, it is very expensive and it does not work on all dogs.

Food Allergy
As with humans, your Bichon can be allergic to certain ingredients in their food and it can happen with foods they’ve eaten all their lives. More often than not, it is an allergic reaction to a protein, such as beef, pork, or chicken. The symptoms include itching, respiratory problems, and digestive problems. If you don’t see anything else causing your pet’s distress, you may want to have them tested. They will be put on a special diet and it can take up to 8 weeks or more to find out. Once you’ve find out what your Bichon is allergic to, you can change their diet accordingly.

Unfortunately, the Bichon Frise can be prone to allergies and some say they are common among white dogs. If your Bichon is itching excessively or showing any other symptoms of a possible allergic reaction, consult with your veterinarian for testing and treatment options.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/
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