In case you missed it - we had one of the country's top veterinarians on our call in the 40 Day Furry Friend Photo Challenge!
Doctor Pratt has a bachelor's degree in animal nutrition, a master's degree in genetics, a Ph.D. in proteomics, a veterinary degree, and an executive MBA! She has done general practice, ER medicine and works with exotics. We are so grateful to her for hopping on the call to answer questions submitted by our group members! We got a ton of amazing information.
We took everything she had to say about allergies and laid it out for you below! If you want to watch the full video (with Dr. Pratt's amazing way of making all the complicated science understandable!) check it out below ↓
Sharon, has a four-year-old English bulldog named Thor! Her question is, "My dog is doing a lot of scratching and licking of his paws. Is there anything I can do for him?"
Doctor Pratt’s Response
So English bulldogs are predisposed to allergies. Each week I see a lot of dogs that have allergies and it can be a frustrating situation for pet owners and their furry friends!
Allergies present themselves in a lot of different ways. It can be licking of the feet and the paws. It can be scratching their faces on the ground or rolling in the grass, scratching their backs on the carpet. They can even present as an ear infection! When the ears get red and irritated and they start scratching and shaking their head, that's all allergy-related.
Their skin is supposed to be a barrier to infection. But when you get itchy and you break the barrier by itching, scratching, and rubbing on things - then bacteria, yeast, and fungus from the environment can come in those wounds and it can lay its web, and then they have a bad infection that makes them even itchier.
But the itch from infection and the itch from allergies are actually two separate pathways, and that's what's the most confusing to owners.
So, you know, dogs and cats have some differences, but they do have a lot of similarities as far as allergies go. Dogs and cats are both allergic to three things.
Allergies and Your Pets
Did you know allergies in dogs and cats are from one of or a combination of just 3 things?
Flea Saliva! Fleas and when this is the case it’s actually the flea saliva they’re allergic to.
It can be their food.Actually this is the case in only 10% of cases I see!
It can be the environment.The environment is the cause of pet allergies about 70% of the time.
So it doesn't matter which of these 3 things they’re allergic to. We can't keep them in a bubble, but we can treat those underlying allergies!
If they're allergic to fleas, doing a monthly flea prevention that stops them from biting is very important.
The second thing is the food, but it’s a small part. With a food allergy, you’ll want to change their diet to a protein that your dog has never seen before. They're usually not allergic to corn, wheat, or soy. (Staying away from all those grain-free diets is actually kind of important because they can sometimes cause heart disease, especially in large-breed dogs) But, in general, dogs are almost always allergic to the protein source, a chicken or a beef or something like that. So if you change the food and give nothing but that food for six weeks, and your dog's still itchy, and they don't have a secondary infection, like I was explaining, then it's probably not the food.
And then the third thing is the environment, which includes inside and outside allergens.That's where the big problem comes in because we can't keep our pets in a bubble. So since you can't keep them in a bubble, you usually have to give allergy medications.
Your dog might need an allergy medication every single day that they take, or maybe a weekly/monthly injection. They block a receptor that causes itch in dogs. So it doesn't even matter what they're allergic to, all they do is they take the medication, and then the medication binds to the receptor. It's called the JAK receptor. And then things can float around in their bloodstream like pollens and, you know, ragweed and dust mites. Allergens can float around in their system, but they won't show allergy itch because of the fact that they're already bound. So nothing else can bind to that.
If your pet experiences a secondary infection mentioned there are medications for that. You're gonna need to go to the vet when that happens, and usually, you need an antibiotic or an anti-yeast medication. Once the secondary infection is treated you still need to address the allergy.
In summary, fleas, food, and the environment are the primary causes of allergies, but treating underlying allergies through medication and diet changes can help! Secondary infections may also occur, and it's crucial to address the allergy even after treatment. Hopefully this will help you identify the signs of allergens. It’s important to speak to your vet to get an idea of al available treatment options for you and your FurryFriend!
That is just SOME of the incredible advice and insights we got from Doctor Pratt. It was such an honor getting to know our FurryFriends that much more!
To meet more amazing pet paw-rents, share your fur babies, and see special features like this in the future, be sure to join the 40 Day Furry Friend Photo Challenge!