Southern California is, unfortunately, a hot bed for chronic skin allergies. Pets that are affected will either chew or scratch their skin more frequently than what is expected for normal healthy skin. Where a pet is scratching, how old they were when they started scratching and when they scratch really helps us narrow down our list of differentials for the source of the allergies. The three most common allergies are:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – Pets suffering from the form of allergy will often times chew their rump area, base of the tail, inner thighs, back of the thighs, and belly. Pets don’t have to be covered in fleas to be severely affected by this condition, pets that are sensitive can be affected after just a few bites and simply bathing the pet or giving him/her flea preventative will often not be enough once they’ve started scratching.
Environmental Allergies – Probably the most common and most frustrating of the allergies is going to cause the pet to chew/lick the paws, the front of the elbow and scratch the arm pit area and flanks. A lot of times these pets will also have chronic ear infections as well. The allergies can be due to pollens, trees, grasses, mites, dander, insects, molds, etc… There are a few different management options and we’d be more than happy to examine your pet and based on their history make a recommendation that meets their individual needs.
Food Allergies – Probably the most misunderstood and over diagnosed of all the allergies. Dogs that chew/rub the area below the anus and have chronic ear infections are likely to suffer from food allergies, with that being said food allergies can really manifest clinical signs anywhere on the skin.
Ear Infections (Otitis Externa) - Otitis is a common condition in both dogs and cats. There are many causes, but the main cause is simply the anatomy of the ear. The ear canal is an inverted “L”. Once an infection starts in the ear, with the ear canal’s temperature being at least body temperature, it literally “cooks” as in an incubator. This, coupled with large, heavy floppy ears or hairy ears, we get severe Otitis. These ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, but yeast and mites can also be a problem.
Signs your pet might display of Otitis are shaking their heads, flopping their ears, scratching at the ears, a head tilt towards the infected ear, odor or a discharge. The type of infection is diagnosed by an ear slide, gram stain or culture. These tests tell us if the infection is caused by mites, bacteria or yeast of a combination infection. Treatment is usually ear drops, or for severe infections, an ear flush under anesthesia.
Dogs that experience multiple ear infections in a short period of time are considered suffering from chronic otitis externa. This can be due to numerous factors including environmental allergies, food allergies, and anatomical defects. If your pet suffers from this condition, please come see us at Beach City Animal Hospital for full work up on the source of the otitis externa. Remember Otitis is a common problem. But with early diagnosis and treatment, it can be taken care of painlessly and quickly.