Hay Fever??

August 2, 2012

Although the weather has been pretty appalling, we are actually in the middle of summer. At this time of year, the pollen levels fluctuate on a day to day basis but are usually higher than at any other time of the year.

Hay fever sufferers will testify that this year, despite the cool and wet weather, has been no exception.

It is not only people who can suffer from pollen allergies, but also both cats and dogs which are often plagued by pollen sensitivities.

Whereas in people, we get the familiar runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes, in pets, the signs tend to exhibit in the skin with an itch causing increased licking and scratching. The skin allergy condition is called Atopic Dermatitis. There is now a lot of evidence that the route of exposure is through direct penetration of the skin rather than being inhaled. When the cat or dog licks the skin and damages the skin’s surface, the skin’s protective barrier is damaged and so the skin becomes more permeable to allergens resulting in increased exposure and a worsening spiral.

The most commonly affected areas are paws, groin, armpits, ears and muzzle and the condition can result in self trauma to any or all of these areas. Because the surface of the skin becomes broken due to the self-trauma, the skin becomes susceptible to secondary yeast and bacterial infections which often make the situation much worse.

The ideal way to control any allergy is to try to avoid exposure to the allergy trigger (the allergen); however, as any hay fever sufferer will tell you, this is often impossible with a pollen sensitivity. Antibiotics will control the secondary infection and a variety of treatment options are available to control the allergy itself ranging from medication which dampens down the immune response, to desensitisation treatment where a vaccination is compiled against the specific allergens the pet is sensitive to.

Visit your Vet for more advice on treatment options.

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