Allergies and Skin Problems in Dogs and Cats

Allergies are common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds. They are often due to fleas, but can also result from food, inhaled irritants such as dust or pollen, and contact allergens such as grasses, weeds and plans. With our green and various plant and tree life here in the Northwest, there are many allergens in our environment. Most allergies appear after the pet is six months of age, with the majority affected dogs being over two years. The most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin – either localized or generalized. Other symptoms include respiratory distress (coughing, sneezing and wheezing) or digestive problems causing vomiting, flatulence or diarrhea.

Flea allergies are the most common allergy in cats—an ordinary cat experiences only minor skin irritation at the site of the flea bite. The allergic flea cat, on the other hand, has a severe itch-producing reaction when the flea’s saliva is deposited on the skin. Just one bite causes such intense itching that the cat may severely scratch or chew itself, leading to hair loss and open sores or scabs on the skin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump or base of the tail. Cats can also develop allergies to food, cat litter, inhaled substances and environmental substances.

It is crucial to be able to identify the first signs and symptoms of allergies and dermatological conditions. These include:

  • Scratching, licking, chewing or biting the skin, feet and ears
  • Red, raised, scaly areas on the skin
  • Bumps, crusts or pus-filled blisters on the skin
  • Increased skin pigmentation
  • Thickened skin
  • Loss of hair
  • Salivary staining (brown color)
  • Head shaking

If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, please make an appointment to have him or her seen by one of our veterinarians. We will evaluate your pet, determine the most effective method of treatment, and explain how you can prevent future problems. If left untreated, allergic reactions and skin conditions can become serious medical concerns. It is important to note that even if you do not see fleas on your pet, these symptoms may still be due to a flea allergy. Many pets with sensitive skin immediately groom and remove fleas before we see them.

Behavior Counseling

Even with the right training and lots of attention and love, your dog or cat can develop bad habits or unwanted behaviors. Please don’t make the mistake of believing you and your family must live with these problems or, worse, consider giving up your pet. The team at Hadlock Veterinary Clinic offers behavior counselling for many of your pet’s issues, including inappropriate urination or defecation, urine marking, aggression, nipping and biting, separation anxiety, inappropriate chewing and barking, digging, chewing, and resistance to the introduction of new pets into the household.

Behavior problems may be caused by changes in your pet’s environment, such as a change in schedule or the introduction of a new baby or pet; learned, as a result of unintentional positive reinforcement; or genetic. Furthermore, any painful disease or condition, or degenerative changes associated with ageing, can cause or contribute to behavior problems.

For example, a pet that is fearful of children may become more reactive, irritable, and aggressive as conditions such as dental problems, arthritis, or an infection make him or her more uncomfortable or less mobile. Addressing the underlying medical problem or providing pain relief, along with behavior modification techniques, can often resolve some of these problems.

Our assessment begins with your pet’s clinical history and a thorough medical examination. Before beginning behavior therapy, any medical problems that have been diagnosed will be treated. If our veterinarians and technical staff members cannot help with your pet’s behavior problem, we can refer you to a board-certified animal behavior specialist.

Laser Therapy

Reducing pain and promoting healing are two of our medical team’s top priorities. To that end, we have invested in a Class IV therapeutic laser, which we use on our patients following surgery or an injury and to help manage a range of chronic and acute conditions.

Laser therapy is a painless, FDA-approved medical procedure that uses low-level lasers to stimulate the natural healing capabilities of the body’s cells. This form of laser therapy is effective at promoting healing on a cellular level, as well as decreasing inflammation resulting from surgery, injury or the effects of chronic illnesses such as arthritis or acute conditions such as otitis. It can also be used to increase joint mobility and relieve the aches and pains common to geriatric pets.

During each treatment, the energy from the laser increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. Laser therapy can also accelerate tissue repair and cell growth, improve circulation and nerve function, reduce scar tissue formation, and help the immune system fend off infection. Laser therapy causes no adverse effects on healthy cells.

As the injured area returns to normal, the function is restored, and pain is relieved, allowing your pet to quickly return to his or her normal activities.

Pet Nutrition

Proper nutrition and a balanced diet, along with fresh, clean water, are essential ingredients for your pet’s overall good health. As your pet’s caregiver, nutrition is the most significant health variable you control.

Feeding your pet the highest-quality food you can afford is one of the best ways you can contribute to his or her health and vitality. Although the differences between premium and budget varieties may not be apparent on their nutrition labels, they are in the quality of the ingredients. Both may contain the same amount of protein, but be very different when it comes to digestibility and nutritional value. Making the best dietary choices for your dog or cat not only effects general health but will improve the quality and length of your pet’s life.

To support your efforts, the doctors at Hadlock Veterinary Clinic perform a thorough body condition evaluation during every physical examination and give recommendations based on what we see. We can also provide you with valuable information on proper serving size, nutrient needs, and feeding strategies for your pet. We will also help you navigate pet food claims so you can make the most informed choices.

Prescription Diets

Some pets have serious nutritional challenges or chronic conditions that benefit from a special diet. When that is the case, we may recommend feeding a special prescription diet. Making this change can have a significant positive impact on your pet’s overall health and well-being.

Prescription diets benefit medical conditions such as liver disease, bladder and kidney disease, digestive problems, renal failure, food allergies, diabetes, and more. Hadlock Veterinary Clinic carries a diverse inventory of prescription foods and high-quality nutritional products. We take Purina and Royal Canin prescription diets. If your pet requires a prescription diet we do not carry, we can easily order it for you.

Reproductive Medicine

Whether you are an experienced breeder or breeding your pet for the first time, the medical team at Hadlock Veterinary Clinic can help during all phases of the breeding process, from initial planning and consultation through birth and post-natal nursing and management of associated diseases and complications.

We provide the following reproductive medical services for your pet:

  • Brucellosis testing
  • Progesterone level tracking
  • Vaginal cytology
  • Caesarean sections

Our veterinarians also treat other problems that affect your pet’s reproductive organs, such as vaginitis, prostate disorders, and mammary disorders.

Wildlife Services

One of the greatest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the exposure to so many beautiful wildlife species. While we do not currently offer wildlife veterinary services, we are happy to take in any injured animals you may come across and care for them until they are able to be transferred to a local wildlife rescue organization.