Allergies in pets are becoming more common, with many pets suffering from seasonal or year-round allergies. As spring fully blooms, and summer is around the corner, environmental allergies kick into high gear, for pets and people alike. If your pet has a story similar to itchy Harriet’s springtime flare-up, contact us for an appointment, to find your scratching pet some relief. Let’s look at how we found the best treatment plan, and made Harriet comfortable.

Harriet’s itchy story

Harriet is a hairy mop of a dog whose family tree includes many breeds. She has a fluffy coat prone to matting without almost daily brushing. Harriet doesn’t enjoy being high maintenance—she prefers romping outdoors, sniffing the blooming flowers, and hiking through the nearby wooded park. Fortunately for Harriet, she lives in Fairfax, California, and can delight in mild temperatures year-round. But, every year, as the weather slowly heads to those glorious sunny summer days, Harriet begs to be outdoors more and more. 

Harriet’s family is also an active bunch, and they enjoy roaming through nature with their furry pup. In the past, they had noticed that Harriet became a little pink underneath her white fluffy coat, and that she’d lick and chew at her belly after lying outside all day, soaking up the sun. But, as summer faded into fall, Harriet would return to normal.

Recently, after a gorgeous day spent entirely outdoors, hiking the trails, and picnicking in a grassy field, Harriet became a hot mess—literally. Her skin was bright red and inflamed, and she was chewing frantically at her itchy paws, legs, belly, and tail head. Poor Harriet could find no relief, and almost overnight had chewed her skin raw. 

The next morning, Harriet’s family saw Harriet’s oozing sores, matted fur, and angry pink skin, and knew their poor pooch needed immediate veterinary relief. They scheduled an appointment with our Fairfax Veterinary Clinic team, and Harriet was soon on her way.

Harriet’s allergy appointment

During Harriet’s appointment, we discovered a severe allergy flare-up. We discussed at length Harriet’s potential triggers and possible treatments, and how allergies in pets tend to worsen with age, which explained the sudden flare this year, compared with previous years. We also explained to Harriet’s owners that routine evaluation of current treatments is key for successful treatment. Allergies in pets are never truly cured, only managed, and her treatment protocol would require occasional tweaking. 

In Harriet’s case, we pinpointed her allergens, and determined that her allergic triggers were potentially pollen—which was coating everything in a layer of yellow dust—and fleas. Harriet’s family had completely forgotten her last month’s flea preventive, and with all her recent time outdoors, she had a small flea nest setting up shop at the base of her tail. At this point, Harriet’s family decided to try to manage her allergies to these two triggers, and then revisit allergy testing in the future, if necessary. 

Harriet’s allergy treatment plan

To help soothe Harriet’s skin inflammation, and keep her comfortable each allergy season, we developed a multimodal treatment plan. Pet allergies respond best to various treatments designed to provide the greatest relief. For Harriet’s particular allergies, we formulated the following plan:

  • Year-round flea treatment — Since Harriet was gnawing on her hind end from the flea infestation, we recommended a quality year-round flea prevention method, and helped Harriet’s family set up a recurring reminder so they would not forget to give the medication on time. A minimum of three consecutive months of flea preventive is needed to break the flea life cycle, so Harriet’s itchy pests will take some time to be fully eradicated.
  • Environmental flea treatment — With adult fleas hopping around on Harriet, there were certainly fleas in the home. The adult fleas you see on your pet comprise only 5% of the total population, with the other 95% consisting of eggs, pupae, and larvae, which take consistent treatment to remove from your carpet, furniture, and pet’s bedding. 
  • Prescription allergy diet — Harriet’s environmental allergy to pollen is the perfect trigger for a prescription allergy diet. In her case, we chose Science Diet’s Derm Defense, to strengthen her skin barrier, and heal her skin naturally.
  • Medicated shampoo — Poor Harriet had chewed her skin painfully raw in spots, creating mats, and hot spots. We shaved away the matted hair to help the hot spots heal, and sent her home with medicated shampoo designed to soothe and heal her skin.
  • Cytopoint injection Cytopoint is a relatively new allergy treatment that specifically targets the itch response in dogs, rather than suppressing the entire immune system, like steroids. Harriet’s family noticed her scratching had greatly improved only a day after the injection, and she did not begin to scratch again from seasonal allergies for six weeks.
  • Wipes — Since Harriet enjoyed being outdoors so much, we recommended that her family wipe off the pollen from trees, flowers, and grass, once she was back inside. Pet-allergy wipes are excellent for removing allergens from skin, and in between toes, while also battling yeast overgrowth. We also suggested limiting Harriet’s time outdoors when pollen counts were extremely high. 

A brand new Harriet

When we saw Harriet a week later, to re-evaluate her comfort level, she was doing well on her multimodal treatment plan, and we were amazed at the difference. No longer a pink, itchy, matted mop of a dog, Harriet was a brand new dog, with a smooth coat, and calm, clear skin. Her family was dedicated to wiping her down each time after being outdoors, and each member had a reminder for flea prevention in their phone. Harriet also was enjoying the Derm Defense food. We asked to see her back in another month or so, to repeat her Cytopoint injection, to last through the rest of her allergy season.

Does your pet’s spring and summer sound similar to Harriet’s? Many pets are beginning to exhibit seasonal allergy signs, as plant pollen begins to coat everything in sight. Flea activity is also picking up, so ensure your furry pal has plenty of prevention product to keep her protected. If you notice your pet beginning to lick, chew, or scratch, with the advent of seasonal allergies, call us for relief.