Monday, March 30, 2015

Managing Pet Allergies

Having a pet that suffers from allergies can be heartbreaking. First of all, they can't communicate their exact needs. So it's up to us as their owners to try to decipher what's best for them, which is not always easy. Charley, my Labrador Retriever, is allergic to the world it seems. But through trial and error, and several expensive trips to the vet, I've learned a few tips for making him more comfortable and keeping him healthy.

I try my best to keep Charley away from his allergy triggers. But unfortunately, one of those triggers is grass and how do you avoid that? The only solution that I have come up with is to keep his coat extra clean during the spring and summer months when the grass pollen count is the highest. (Be sure to always use a gentle shampoo.) Also if I notice that his underside is getting red or a rash is beginning, I start giving him a couple of Benadryls at night. And I spray the inflamed area several times a day with Hydrocortisone spray. I continue doing this until the redness goes away. My veterinarian also initially recommended giving him fish oil daily. But we discontinued this treatment because it didn't improve his skin. However it does help a lot of animals, so you should still try it.

Sadly he is also allergic to some water algae. So that means whenever he goes for a swim in a pond or lake, he gets a bath immediately afterwards. This simple measure prevents a lot of headache later. Without all of this extra care, Charley's skin gets infected easily. And after it's infected the only recourse I have is to go to the vet and get several expensive shots and medications.

Charley also has several food allergies. I found this out after switching his dog food one time. He had grown up on Pedigree and the store was out one day, so I grabbed a bag of Kibbles'n'Bits. Big mistake! Even though I introduced the food to him in a slow mixture with his old food, he became profusely ill and began having bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea. Yeah it was bad! I immediately stopped the Kibble and went to Petsmart for advice. The store clerk there told me that Charley most likely had a dye allergy since there were no dyes in Pedigree and were several types used in Kibbles'n'Bits. So he then recommended their brand of all meat, no dyes or preservatives dog food. Well when I gave it to Charley, the outside of his muzzle began to swell and rash up. So upon returning to Petsmart again, I asked what the problem could still be and the only ingredient that was left that could possibly be the allergen was chicken. So then I was lead over to the Blue Buffalo section to grab a bag of completely hypoallergenic dog food. I started Charley on the Adult Lamb and Rice Formula, which has NO dyes, preservatives, corn, soy, or wheat fillers, or chicken. The difference has been night and day! He has less skin issues, a shinier coat, and more muscle. And since this food is higher in protein, he eats much less of it than his old brand.

Enter fleas! One flea bite causes Charley's hair to start falling out and causes a scaly, scabby rash all over his body. Of course, here again, the best thing is prevention. I do my best to keep him flea-free by washing him with flea shampoo and using flea spray on him and around the house. I've used several of the spot topical treatments in the past, but never found them that effective.You can also purchase several medications now from your veterinarian to give your pet monthly that kill fleas and ticks.

Hopefully you can use some of these tips to treat your fur babies this allergy season! And Charley and I would love to hear any suggestions that you have on treating pet allergies!

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