Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic Port Elizabeth

Allergic dermatitis cannot be prevented and often cannot be cured but limiting exposure to allergens will help to reduce the clinical signs. Allergic signs can be seasonal. Some breeds are more likely to develop certain types of allergies.

Common types of allergic dermatitis

Flea bite allergy (you may not see any fleas as your pet can be allergic to the saliva of just 1 flea)
Food allergy
Atopy (allergens are inhaled or absorbed through the skin)
Contact allergy (grass, detergents, floor polish)
Drug reactions
Allergies to other parasites (ticks, mites, worms)

Signs of allergic dermatitis:

Scratching, licking, chewing or biting the skin, ears and feet
Red, raised, scaly areas
Bumps, crusts or pustules
Increase in skin pigmentation
Thickened skin
Hair loss
Saliva staining (for example a brown colour on the feet)
Head shaking

Our vets at Southern Cross may take some samples from your pet's skin and the treatment will depend on the type of allergy diagnosed. It is very important to follow all the instructions from our vets. Good flea control is essential as well as eliminating certain foods and reducing environmental allergens. We stock a wide range of products at Southern Cross which help with allergic dermatitis such as diets, shampoos and fatty acid supplements.

Using Essential Fatty Acids for Your Petís Skin

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) have been used for a long time to add shine to dry, dull coats. EFAs are types of polyunsaturated fats and they are called essential as the body cannot produce them. The two important types for petís skin are omega-3 and omega-6. These EFAs have anti-inflammatory effects and omega-6 is an important part of the skin barrier. So using EFA supplementation improves the skin barrier and reduces itching and inflammation. The recommended ratio of omega-6: omega-3 is between 10:1 and 5:1.

Normal petís skin takes 21 days to renew and this requires EFAs. If there is a lack of EFAs, the skin will becomes dry and scaly. EFAs can be used as part of the management for dermatitis in dogs and cats. Cats usually need 50% more than is recommended for dogs. EFAs need to be given for up to 2 months before any improvement is seen. Giving EFAs greatly reduces the need for medications in treating skin problems and they are available as liquids, capsules and are included in certain skin diets.

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