Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Q: Food Allergies

Dr. Schaeberle,

I think my pet Roxie has food allergies. How does this happen?

Roxie’s Mom


Hi Roxie’s Mom,

In pets with food allergies, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to substances that it would normally tolerate. This excessive response is termed an allergic reaction.

The most common food allergens are proteins from dairy products and beef. However, proteins such as gluten from wheat, chicken, fish, other substances and additives can also cause allergic reactions.

A common misconception is that corn products routinely cause allergies in pets, when studies have actually shown that corn very rarely at fault. Overall, true food allergies in pets are actually quite rare. Most veterinary dermatologists think they might account for as little as 2% of all allergies.

How is the condition it diagnosed?

Pets are placed on hypoallergenic diets that contain none of the ingredients that the pet has eaten in the past. The food elimination diet must be continued for up to three months to determine if the pet actually has food allergy. Since the pets can have nothing else to eat (no human food, treats or rawhides are allowed), this can be a difficult process for pets and their owners. After a pet has been diagnosed with food allergies, there are a number of commercially available, treats and palatable hypoallergenic diets that can be fed for the rest of your pet’s life.

Thomas Schaberle, VMD

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Q: Flea Allergies and my pet

Dr. Schaeberle,

My dog’s skin has been itchy and my veterinarian diagnosed a flea allergy. I am confused because I have only seen one or two fleas on my pet. Can this be true?



Hi Terry,

Flea allergy dermatitis is a leading cause of scratching in dogs and cats. When fleas feed, they inject a small amount of saliva into the skin. Proteins in saliva are the usual allergen or chemical which causes of this intense itchy response. Dogs and cats with flea bite dermatitis do not have to be infested with many fleas to be itchy. In fact, a single flea bite can cause itching for up to a week.

So how is flea allergy dermatitis diagnosed?

Clinical signs often give the first clue that your pet may suffer from flea allergies. Itching and hair loss in the region from the middle of the back to the tail base and the rear legs is mostly associated with a flea allergy.

The treatment for flea allergy certainly includes very strict flea control. Utilization of monthly topical treatments such as Frontline, Advantage, or Advantix. Treatment of the home will also be recommended to cut down on flea infestations.

As with inhaled allergy, antihistamines such as Benadryl work poorly. Rather, corticosteroids or cortisone is widely used to treat flea bite dermatitis. They often bring about rapid relief to the poor itchy patient.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cat Myths vs. Facts

Cat Myths vs. The Facts

Myth: Indoor Cats Don’t Catch Diseases

Fact: Although indoor cats are far less likely to succumb to contagious diseases, airborne microorganisms may get into the house through open doors and windows, and most indoor cats find their way outside from time to time, where they are exposed to a variety of diseases.

Myth: Licking Wounds Speeds the Healing Process.

Fact: Although purring does speed the healing process, licking wounds can actually keep them open and cause further damage. While initial licking cleans the wound, injured animals that engage in excessive wound licking once the injury has begun to heal should wear Elizabethan (cone-shaped) collars to prevent this behavior.

Myth: Female Cats Should Be Allowed to Have One Litter Before They’re Spayed.

Fact: Cats that are spayed before having any litters are less inclined to develop mammary tumors, which are particularly deadly in cats. Allowing one litter contributes to the overpopulation problem that leads to many cats being euthanized in shelters each year and provides no medical or psychological benefits for the cat.

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