Itching and allergies in dogs

Constant itching in dogs can be caused by a number of problems and can lead to hair loss and damage to the skin leading to further infections and further itching in a vicious cycle.

A number of infectious causes exist for itching – the most common are:

  • Fleas
  • Mites (demodex or sarcoptes)
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi

These may all have differing presentations and may require testing with a skin scrape / hair pluck and microscopy to be confirmed. The good news is these infections can all be treated and this may resolve the itching problem.

If, however, itching continues in the absence of any of these issues we may need to consider an allergic cause. Dogs can be allergic to a wide variety of things including food (even “hypoallergenic” foodstuffs such as duck, fish or rice) and environmental allergens such as certain species of grass or tree.

Blood testing can help to identify both environmental allergies and food allergies and intolorences that can cause your dog’s itch. This information can then be used to try and limit or avoid contact with these allergens. Food allergies can often be treated with a change of diet or with a special clinical diet where proteins have been “hydrolysed” to prevent them from triggering an allergic reaction. Environmental allergies may require long term treatment with medication to prevent itching and regular bathing with medicated shampoo to remove allergens as well as bacteria and fungi from the skin surface and coat.

As always please contact us if you would like to discuss anything or would like any further information!

Parvo Virus

We’ve had a lot of calls lately about whether parvo virus is present in the area and what can be done to minimise the risk to our dogs.

The symptoms of parvo virus usually include bloody / watery diarrhoea and vomiting but presentation can vary depending on age and vaccination status. Please call a veterinary practice immediately if you suspect your dog may have this illness. The virus is often fatal but rapid treatment gives the best chance of a positive outcome.

You can check on the ParvoAlert twitter to see if any cases of parvo have been reported in your postcode (https://twitter.com/parvoalert?lang=en).

The most important preventative measure you can take for your dog is vaccination – both initial puppy vaccines and yearly booster vaccines are important for maintaining your dog’s protection. Vaccines never 100% guarantee immunity but give your dog a much better chance of fighting off the virus if they do come in to contact with it.

If cases have been reported recently in your area you reduce the risk of infection by avoiding areas with high dog traffic such as parks – the virus is shed in the faeces of infected dogs but can live for a long time in the environment anywhere an infected dog has been.

Disinfection can also help to prevent the spread of parvo virus – the virus can be carried on shoes, which can be disinfected for safety if you have unvaccinated puppies or immunocompromised dogs in your home or have visited a high dog traffic area after a parvo outbreak. Not all disinfectants are effective against parvo – feel free to contact us for advice on which to purchase.

Finally, some breeds of dog inlcuding labradors, rottweilers and dobermans are at increased risk of contracting parvo and their response to vaccines is often poorer. You can counteract this by giving an extra vaccine (after the initial puppy vaccines) at ~16 weeks of age and by giving the first annual booster early at ~10 months of age.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like any further information.

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Penny’s eye surgery

Here’s Penny the cocker spaniel (one of our staff pets) recovering well after her referral surgery at Veterinary Vision to remove extra eyelashes (distichiasis) and extra clumps of hair at the corners of her eyes (hairy caruncles).

Extra eyelid hairs are removed with a combination of cyrosurgery (freezing) and electrolysis to destroy the hair follices producing the abnormal hairs. The “hairy caruncles” which wick moisture away from the corners of the eye are removed by surgical excision.

All in all this hopefully means no more runny eyes!

Penny the spaniel recovering from her surgery
Penny, with a toy for being brave

Whilst we can provide most orthopaedics and soft tissue surgeries on site there are occasionally times when referral to an external specialist is required (specialist opthalmology, oncology, neurology and more).

We are always happy to discuss the best referral options for your case taking in to account your budget and transportation.

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