Allergy alert for family pets

Veterinary dermatologist Mandy Burrows.
Veterinary dermatologist Mandy Burrows.

SPRING and early summer are peak times for pet allergies and veterinary dermatologist Mandy Burrows has warned dog and cat owners to be on the lookout for symptoms.

The Murdoch University specialist said the veterinary hospital treated many pets for pollen allergies to weeds, trees or grass.

“Dogs and cats are just as susceptible as people to pollen allergies,” she said.

“Pet owners should watch carefully for their dog foot-licking, face-rubbing and head-shaking as well as for rashes and irritation affecting the belly and causing the pet to scratch.

“Cats manifest allergies usually by over-grooming and excess hair coat loss.”

Dr Burrows also treated pets for allergies to pet foods, dust mites and mould spores and said it was often easy to alleviate allergy symptoms.

“Some dogs and cats can improve if the diet is changed to avoid chicken and beef,” she said.

“Regular bathing with low irritant shampoo products can assist some dogs in removing pollen from the hair coat, as well as supplementing both dogs and cats with Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish oil.”

Dr Burrows said allergy testing in the specialist dermatology clinic at Murdoch University was available.

Allergy desensitisation using a course of injections administered once a month was a valuable strategy for severe allergies.

“Desensitisation has the potential to improve symptoms as well as decrease the amount of medication a dog or cat may need to take for allergy control,” she said.

Pet owners do not require a referral for the Murdoch clinic.