The Complete Guide to Seasonal Allergies in Pets

For those of us with seasonal allergies, spring means pollen, pollen, and more pollen. Runny noses, congestion, teary eyes, and constant sneezing are some of the things that we have to look forward to in the upcoming months. But did you know that pets exhibit different signs of allergies? If you notice any of the following signs in your dog or cat, it is likely that he or she may be suffering from seasonal allergies

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Constant Scratching

In dogs and cats, allergy symptoms tend to take the form of skin irritation, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis. To relieve the itching, pets almost always resort to the most natural reaction: scratching. Excessive scratching or biting is a sign that you should easily notice. Pets may also rub their bodies against furniture or the floor in an effort to relieve the itching.

Inflamed Skin

As the scratching worsens, your pet’s skin will grow inflamed, red, and tender to the touch. Open sores and scabbing might result. Cats, in particular, tend to engage in vigorous scratching, which can lead to the development of tiny lesions on their skin.

Dandruff and Excessive Shedding

Because allergies can severely dry out the skin and cause it to flake, you may notice an increase of dandruff from your pet. Scratching can also result in hair loss and shedding, sometimes in patches.

Lesions on Paws

If an environmental allergen is the root cause of the problem, check your pet’s paws. If you notice lesions on the underside or top of their paws, the culprit is likely to be pollen or dust that is collected as they trot outdoors.

Ear Infection

Ear infections can be related to allergies, especially when it comes to dogs. As part of a generalized allergic response, ear canals may be itchy and inflamed. Alternatively, yeast or bacteria may grow. If you notice signs of scratching at the ears, head shaking, and red ears, take note. You may also see discharge or an odor coming from your pet’s ears.

Treatment of Seasonal Allergies in Pets

If you suspect that your pet has seasonal allergies, it’s important to bring him or her to see a medical professional. Allergies are usually multi-factorial, which means that diagnosis is not always easy. Even with treatment, it can take eight to twelve weeks to see improvement.

Veterinarians usually opt for an intradermal skin test, meaning that small amounts of test allergens are injected under your dog’s skin. This can help to pinpoint exact allergens, as well as the severity of the allergy. After identifying which injections cause redness or hives, an immunotherapy shot can be developed by your vet. The treatment requires injections over the course of about a year. Nearly 70% of dogs see improvement using this method.

Home Remedies

Home remedies are not meant to replace a visit to a veterinarian, which is absolutely necessary in the case of seasonal allergies in pets. However, if your visit is a few days away, there are some ways you can temporarily relieve symptoms until a thorough treatment plan is developed.

Frequent Baths

A simple bath using mild shampoo will provide your pet with immediate relief from itchiness. If your pet is allergic to pollen or dust, a bath will also wash away any allergens collected on skin and fur.

Foot Soaks

Washing your pet’s feet can drastically reduce the amount of the allergens carried into the home and spread about. After a walk outdoors, be sure to give your pet a simple foot bath.

Omega-3 Supplements

Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements, like fish oil, can help to reduce inflammation and build up the skin’s barrier. This is beneficial to both the allergic reaction and the overall health of your pet.

For those of us who personally experience allergies, we can only imagine how difficult the experience is for pets who cannot communicate or understand what is going on. It is recommended that pet owners keep an eye out for symptoms of an allergic reaction and quickly contact a professional team, like the one at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, if an allergy is suspected.

5 Simple Ways To Ward Off Fleas

With spring right around the corner, both you and your dog might be looking forward to the great outdoors. But before you head for the brilliant sunshine and lush grass, take the necessary steps to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on. These simple steps are easy, effective ways to protect your pet and home from fleas come springtime.

Keep Your Yard Trimmed

It turns out that maintaining your lawn is great for both your home’s curb appeal and your pet’s health. This means something as simple as keeping your lawn mowed and shrubs trimmed. The closer that shrubs and trees are to your home and windows, the greater chance fleas have of moving indoors. Less shrubbery on your lawn means fewer hiding spots for pests.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the appearance of raccoons, stray cats, and other feral animals. If you have the habit of placing bowls of food outdoors for these animals, you might want to reconsider it. They are almost always infested with unwanted fleas.

Oral Flea Medication

Oral flea medication, arguably the most effective and convenient way to eradicate fleas, comes in the form of chewables or pills. Whenever a flea bites your pet, the active ingredients in the medicine are transmitted to the flea to kill it. The unique chemical ingredient in each type of oral flea medication targets fleas in different ways. Some target adult fleas, while others target larvae. Some act to prevent fleas from laying eggs. The type of medication that’s best for your dog depends on the stage of infestation and his or her own health. That’s why it’s important to work with your veterinarian to identify the best plan of action. He or she will also be able to warn you of side effects that may be seen, especially if your pet uses other medications.

Clean, Clean, Clean (Your Home)

Even if fleas have been eradicated, it’s likely that eggs and larvae have accumulated unnoticed in your yard or home. That means that they can infect your dog a second time if left untreated. In the home, eggs and larvae are often found in carpeting and rugs. So, be sure to vacuum these areas several times a week, especially if you’ve experienced a recent flea infestation. Also remember to vacuum under furniture, cushions, or anywhere in the home that your pet frequents. According to the Agrilife Extension Service of Texas A&M University, taking these steps can eliminate 30% of larvae and 60% of flea eggs. After vacuuming, make sure to empty the vacuum bag and change it frequently.

Spot-on Treatment

Due to their convenience, many pet owners reach for spot-on treatments that are simple dabbed onto the skin of your pet. However, different products are designed for different types of dogs and will vary in potency. Therefore, you must follow the provided instructions on the label carefully. It is generally recommended that you consult your vet prior to use to identify the best course of action.

Inspect Your Dog After Each Walk

Immediately after returning home from time outdoors, take a few minutes to visually inspect your pup for fleas or ticks. Check in between the toes, in the ears, and around the neck area. If you have a long-haired dog, be sure to spend some extra time looking through fur as well. This simple step can help you prevent an infestation before it ever begins.As for most other things, prevention is the best policy. We encourage you to be proactive in protecting the health of your dog. Simple preventative measures can save your pet from itchy bites and potential infections, while also saving you from expensive medical bills down the road. If you want to get started on protecting your dog from fleas, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a veterinary professional as soon as possible. A reliable and experienced team, like that of Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, can recommend the best methods and products for you and your furry friend.

Why You Should Have Yearly Dental Checkups For Your Pet

This month you may have given smooches to your Valentine, but how about your pet? Whether you receive many kisses from your dog or cat (or a rare few) have you noticed anything about their breath or teeth? You may want to pay attention to how often you go on dental checkups for your pet. Many pet owners may not take special note of their pet’s dental hygiene, but dental health is one of the most commonly neglected areas in pet health.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Four out of five dogs over the age of 3 years old have a kind of dental disease called periodontal disease. In fact, by the time your pet is 3, it is very likely that he or she has at least some early evidence of its onset. If preventative measures aren’t put in place, the disease will worsen.

Periodontal disease starts with something that is familiar to most of us: plaque. At first, plaque is soft and can be removed by simple brushing or, in pets, chewing hard foods and toys. However, plaque that is not removed will harden into tartar. When this happens above the gumline, removal is still relatively simple.

The problem for your pet will occur when plaque and tartar build up below the gumline, setting the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and other surrounding tissue. At its most viscous, periodontal disease destroys the tissue surrounding the tooth and the bony socket that holds the tooth in place. Ultimately, the tooth will become loose. Advanced periodontal disease can also cause health problems in your pet’s kidney, liver, and heart muscles.

Fortunately, these problem can be avoided by simple dental checkups and cleanings. A regularly scheduled dental checkup is the most effective way of monitoring your pet’s dental health and preventing more serious complications down the line. It is recommended that all pets undergo dental examination and cleaning once a year.

What Happens During a Checkup?

A routine dental checkup consists of an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Because most dental disease begins and festers below the gumline where it cannot be seen, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. X-rays can also be used to examine the health of the jaw and tooth roots.

Why Does My Pet Have to Undergo Anesthesia?

At our own dentists, we have to sit still and hold our mouths open in order for the dentist to work on us. However, our pets are less able to understand the concept and may react by moving, trying to escape, or even biting. Anesthesia on your pet will make the dental examination and cleaning much safer and less stressful for you, your pet, and the veterinary team.

The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend dental cleanings without anesthesia. These types of procedures do not allow for cleaning or inspection below the gumline. Furthermore, “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings require pets to be restrained, which can be uncomfortable and frightening for your pet.

How Can I Take Care of My Pet’s Teeth At Home?

Prevention of dental disease in your pet is simpler than you think. The idea is to regularly remove plaque and tartar from his or her teeth. Regular brushing is the single most effective way you can keep their teeth healthy. While daily brushing is best, brushing several times a week is effective nonetheless.

If you haven’t brought your furry friend for a dental checkup in a while, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible to minimize future complications and pain. Find a trusted and well-staffed animal hospital near you, such as Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, and make an appointment for a dental checkup for your pet today.

7 Dangerous Holiday Foods For Pets

Aside from the twinkling lights, gift-giving, and time with family, one other thing we like to look forward to during this season is feasting. But keep in mind that our pets cannot eat everything that we can. When you bring guests over, your friendly dog or cat may be waiting for scraps around the table. But warn your family and guests of the dangers that come from sneaking them a bite, as there are a number of dangerous holiday foods for pets to watch out for.

Chocolate

Although we may be stating the obvious, chocolate is one of the most toxic foods for pets. While cats seem to be less tempted by chocolate, dogs are notoriously attracted to this delicious sweet. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingestion of small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.

Different forms of chocolate vary in their toxicity, with dry cocoa powder at the top of the list, followed by unsweetened baker’s chocolate. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your pet. Any type of dessert that contains chocolate, such as brownies or chocolate chip cookies, should not be fed to pets.

Sugar-Free Items With Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute in chewing gum, candy, peanut butter, store-bought baked goods, and other foods. A 2010 academic paper collected data on xylitol toxicosis in dogs in the U.S., finding that 2500 cases were reported in 2008. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can cause low blood sugar and liver toxicity. Ingestion will cause a rapid and massive insulin release in dogs, leading to weakness, seizures, and vomiting. Pet owners should examine labels closely, especially on sugar-free products. Instead of being listed as “Xylitol,” it is sometimes listed as “Sugar Alcohol,” so be wary of both terms.

Raisins and Grapes

Salads, baked goods, or even savory dishes can have raisins or grapes in them. However, raisins or grapes can cause sudden kidney failure in dogs and ingesting even small amounts can be fatal for both cats and dogs.  Initial signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactive behavior. After 24 hours, the pet may become lethargic and depressed. While raisins are more toxic to dogs than grapes, it is extremely important to keep any food items containing either away from your pet.

Coffee

Any type of caffeine is toxic for pets. It can cause seizures, heart arrhythmias, and even death. Therefore, caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, can be dangerous. If you serve coffee or tea to any of your guests, advise them to keep their mugs away from your dog or cat.

Alcohol

At safe and reasonable amounts, alcohol is fun and bubbly, but be extra careful to keep it away from pets. Even for humans, alcohol poisoning is a serious issue. For our fluffy companions, who are much smaller in body mass and lack tolerance, alcohol is significantly more toxic. Alcohol can lead to staggering, decreased reflexes, slowing respiratory rate, cardiac arrest, and even death.

Onions and Garlic

Fragrant and delicious, onions and garlic are found in many holiday dishes to provide some flavor, kick, and seasoning. However, they both contain thiosulphate, which causes red blood cells to burst in cats and dogs. This can possibly lead to something called hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. Side effects of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and lethargy.

The good news is that a small bite of food flavored with onion or garlic will not cause problems in most pets. Ingestion of large quantities, however, such as an entire clove of garlic, can be serious. Garlic has much less thiosulphate than onions, but it is recommended that both are kept away from dogs and cats. In particular, cats are more sensitive to garlic.

Ham and Bacon

Ham, bacon, and other pork products are high in fat content and difficult for pets to digest. They can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Even small portions of ham or bacon can contribute a disproportionately large amount of calories and fat to a dog or cat’s diet.

We hope that your holidays will not be interrupted by concerning signs of distress in your pet. Be sure to review this list of dangerous holiday foods for pets before a gathering or party and inform your guests of the involved risks. If you begin to suspect that your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, call a professional veterinary clinic, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, immediately.

Should You Worry About Poisonous Christmas Plants For Your Pet?

When the holiday season rolls around, we all love a festive plant to spruce up the atmosphere of our living spaces. If you have a dog or cat, chances are that he or she will be curious about the new addition to the home. They might even sniff, chew, or rub their bodies against the plant. But this is where things can get dicey. As a pet owner, it’s important to know the truth about poisonous Christmas plants for your furry friends.

Poinsettia

Poinsettias are notorious for being the most deadly plant for pets. However, this is not quite the case. It is true that their brightly colored leaves contain a sap that irritates the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. Ironically, this very sap naturally deters ingestion. This means that even if your dog or cat eats the leaves, they will most likely ingest a very small amount due to the unpleasant sensation that results. In the case that these leaves are ingested, mild nausea, vomiting, and drooling will ensue. The good news is that it is unlikely for more serious problems to develop.

Christmas Trees

Dogs and, in particular, cats are charmed by the appearance of a brightly lit Christmas tree in the living room. However, there are some risks to keep in mind. Fir trees produce oils that can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach. These oils can cause excessive vomiting or drooling. If many needles are ingested, there is a risk of gastrointestinal tract irritation, obstruction, and puncture.

Furthermore, drinking Christmas tree water can cause mild vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. The presence of fertilizers, bacteria, or mold in the water can quickly cause sickness in your pet.

Mistletoe and Holly

Mistletoe and holly are iconic Christmas plants. Sadly, however, the leaves and berries of these two plants are generally more dangerous to pets than poinsettias and Christmas trees. Symptoms include intestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.

The ingestion of mistletoe is particularly worrisome for dogs and cats. Mistletoe is well known for causing severe intestinal upset, a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations. If a lot is ingested, seizures and even death may result.

To be safe, we recommend that holly and mistletoe be kept well out of your house altogether. For the safety of your pets, opt for the imitation version of these plants.

Amaryllis

Many enjoy the vibrant and eye-catching bulbs of the Amaryllis, which blossom into red, white, or pink flowers during the Christmas season. However, this beloved and beautiful plant is strongly toxic for dogs and cats. If the flowers and leaves are ingested, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, or tremors may occur. Be warned, though, that the bulbs are actually the most toxic. It can cause even more severe symptoms, such as seizures and changes in blood pressure.

Christmas Cactus

Generally, the Christmas cactus is considered a non-toxic plant. If it is ingested, mild vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea may occur. Thankfully, severe symptoms are not expected.

Poisonous Christmas Plants, In Short

Please be advised, that the consumption of any plant material may cause gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. Some plants may cause life-threatening problems for your pets, while others will not. For a look at the complete list, please refer to this ASPCA database.

Keep in mind, however, that some plants have been treated with pesticides. In these cases, all ingestion may be potentially dangerous. Due to their small body mass, puppies and kittens are at highest risk for complications.

Furthermore, cats are generally able to jump to high shelves on their own. For this reason, we recommend that, at least for poisonous Christmas plants, pet owners choose imitation versions over the real ones. If you do choose to bring any of these plants into your home, be sure to place them strategically and properly train your pet to avoid eating them. If you find your pet displaying any symptoms or evidence of ingestion, call a trusted animal healthcare provider, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, immediately.