Why is my dog itchy?

With many plants starting to flower, we are starting to see the first cases of pollen allergies coming into the clinics.

The most common signs of pollen allergies in dogs is itchiness and inflammation affecting the paws, ears, groin and armpit, though any area can be affected. In cats, we tend to see scabs forming over large parts of the body.

Our treatment of allergic skin disease has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. We used to believe that the pollen affected the dog by them breathing in the pollens, which would then get absorbed and affect the dog systemically. We now believe the allergies are actually coming from the pollens directly contacting the skin.

For cats with allergic skin disease, we find it is often associated with episodes of stress. We focus our attention for cats on minimising stress, controlling other things that may irritate the skin such as fleas, and use medication where required to settle things down.

For dogs, we often find they have secondary infections with bacteria or yeast if not brought in to us early. Owners may notice a bad smell, little lumps covering the skin and reddening and roughening of the inner surface of the ear. If an infection is present, they need veterinary attention.

To help minimise the risk of infection and to reduce itchiness, we recommend bathing dogs with allergies once weekly with and oatmeal based shampoo such as Episoothe. This is left on for around 10-15 minutes then rinsed off. This is then followed with a leave-in conditioner such as PAW Nutriderm. We also find that zinc and fatty acid supplements such as Nutricoat applied to the food once daily can dramatically reduce itching in some cases. These products are all available without a consult from the Bunbury Vet Clinic and Eaton Vet Clinic. For the more severe cases, we may use antihistamines and other medications such as steroids, but we try to minimise the use of these products.

If your pet becomes itchy over spring (many people notice it coincides with their hay fever flaring up), it may have an allergic skin disease. As usual, early intervention and treatment is the most successful, and we can help you build a maintenance program suited to your pet.

Breeding Your Dog

Breeding Your Dog.

I frequently have clients say to me that they want to breed from their bitch, which is often for reasons such as “everyone loves her and lots of people have said they would love one of her puppies”, or they are hoping to make some money from selling the puppies.

For anyone who wants to breed their bitch, I always ask them to consider these points:

  • The pound, SAFE, SWAR and rescue organisations are already full of puppies that need rehoming. Many of these have been bred because “everyone wants her puppies”, but the reality is many people struggle to find good homes for all the puppies they breed. Also, for every puppy that is born and gets a home, that’s one more rescue dog that doesn’t get a new home
  • Things can go wrong. She may need a caesarean, develop eclampsia or have other complications. When things go wrong it can occasionally be fatal. You may also end up needing to hand rear the puppies for up to 4 weeks, which is very time consuming and tiring
  • You have to be prepared for it to be expensive. If she needs a caesarean in the middle of the night, it will cost over $1000. Then you have the cost of feeding the bitch and puppies, vaccinations, worming, flea treatments, etc. You will probably not make money and you could  lose a lot
  • Early desexing prevents mammary tumours (breast cancer). We recommend not breeding a bitch until her third season to allow her to fully mature, but the risk of mammary tumours increases with each season. By the time they have had their third season, they have a 22% chance of developing mammary tumours
  • There is no benefit to the bitch’s behaviour. Having puppies doesn’t settle a bitch down. It may have the opposite effect as I have known children to be bitten by bitches protecting their puppies

If you would like more information on breeding, desexing or if you have any other questions, please phone us at the Bunbury and Eaton Vet Clinics and talk to one of our qualified staff.

Landlords: Please Consider Pet Owners

Every Week the Bunbury Vet Clinic and Eaton Vet Clinic receive calls from people seeking assistance to rehome their pets because they can’t find a rental property that will let them have animals.

The Australian Companion Animal Council is working to encourage more landlords to consider pet owners as tenants, and have released their list of ten good reasons for landlords and managing agents to consider renting to a pet owner:

1.Pet owning tenants are generally willing to pay more rent.

2.Pet-friendly properties rent faster.

3.Responsible pet owners can make excellent tenants.

4.Tenants with pets want to hold longer leases.

5.Reduce your advertising spend as pet-friendly properties rent much faster.

6.No more problems with hidden pets.

7.Most Australians feel their pet is part of the family and care for them as such.

8.Reduce animal euthanasia; animal welfare agencies indicate that as many as 30% of dogs and cats are surrendered by owners who are unable to locate adequate accommodation.

9.Even considering pets will not necessarily lock you into a pet-particular outcome.

10.Pet application and agreement forms are available to help landlords and managing agents implement a successful pet management policy and help tenants understand how to responsibly manage pets. Forms are available from www.acac.org.au