Summer Edition: Questions and Answers
Q. What are the main causes of seasonal allergic reactions in pets?
A. If your pet is only prone to allergic reactions in spring and early summer then the most likely causes of the reactions are flea saliva, tree pollen (April/May), grass pollen (May/ June), mould spores, roundworms or hook worms. If the allergic reactions are prevalent year round but worse in the spring then it is dust mite coupled with any one of the above. Allergens are additive, which means that they are each perceived as the enemy by the cat’s body, so one exacerbates the other.
Q. Are some breeds more prone than others?
A. Yes, Siamese and Siamese crosses are certainly frequent sufferers but little is known about breed effect in general.
Q. What are the symptoms?
A. In cats, all too often the symptoms are missed until they develop bald, red patches and infected “hotspots”. Runny eyes and ear infections are also associated.
Q. What treatments should you apply?
A. Firstly, all pets should be treated against fleas and worms in the Spring. Beware of some older product brands that have been used for a long time as fleas and worms are increasingly resistant to them. If you are in doubt, consult your vet surgeon for advice. Secondly, if effective flea and worm treatments have been applied then you can assume that it is likely to be pollen, mould or chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides or bleach. It is difficult to restrict your pet to the point that they can avoid these allergens outside, but use allergy preventatives when they return indoors. Wash bedding once per week. This not only helps remove pollen but it also get rid of dust mites and mould which can be contributory factors.
Q. When should you consult your veterinary surgeon?
A. You should consult the vet in the following cases - Rescue cats that have recently endured nutritional, physical or emotional stress that may be suffering from demodectic mange or ringworm. Cats aged seven years or more that are overweight, lethargic or drink a lot which may be suffering from underactive thyroid, kidney malfunction or type 2 diabetes. Pets in severe distress that may require short-term use of corticosteroids to relieve the discomfort.
Q. Are steroids recommended as a routine?
A. No, steroids are not recommended as a first port of call because they do have serious side-effects if they are used over a prolonged period of time including appetite increase, thirst, weight gain, skin thinning and bruising and even predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
Q. What else can I do to help my beloved pet?
A. Food intolerance is normally a year round phenomenon but if any of the above symptoms are also accompanied by vomiting or diarrhoea then food may well be a contributory factor. In this case consider using hypoallergenic food. Products including Omega-3 fatty acids - which are derived from oily fish or from supplements - generally aid skin and coat health. Lastly, use only “chemical friendly” toiletries and avoid using pesticides and herbicides in the garden and scented sprays or cleansers in the home!