Allergies in Dogs

From springtime through the late fall, many people are subject to seasonal allergies. But people are not the only ones suffering. For our dogs and cats, these same seasons can bring intense itching and discomfort. Yes, it seems our pets can get their own “hay fever”.

It’s a very frustrating and somewhat common situation. Pet owners by the millions flock to their veterinarians in the hope of relieving their pet’s itchiness. For many people, the constant chewing, licking, and scratching can test their love for their pets.

Current estimates show that about 20 million pets suffer from some sort of skin condition and many of these are allergies. Allergies are an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to a foreign substance, such as pollen or flea saliva. For people with allergies, we sneeze and sniffle as our bodies respond to histamine released by immune cells. These symptoms are due to the reaction of histamine with receptors in our nose and upper airways.

Our pets, however, react somewhat differently. Dogs and cats have many more histamine receptors in the skin and fewer in the nose. As histamine is released, the receptors cause an itchy feeling and the pet reacts by scratching at that site. Scratching can generate more histamine release, thereby causing more scratching. The constant assault on the skin by the pet’s claws can actually damage the skin, leading to bacterial infections. Areas of hair loss and oozing sores known as “hot spots” are very common with allergies.

Fleas are often found to be the reason for a pet’s itchiness. However, the pet who is truly allergic to fleas will often appear to have no fleas at all! Why? Because these pets are the ultimate flea catchers, doing everything in their power to bite or scratch the discomfort of the flea away. The flea’s saliva sets off an allergic reaction leading to a flurry of chewing and digging at the skin.

Allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen and mold spores, are another reason for itchiness in pets. This is known as atopy and affects many pets from springtime straight through until fall. This condition can be inherited in certain breeds.

If your pet has signs of allergies year round and you see little or no improvement with certain medications, you may have a pet that has food allergies. Contrary to popular belief, food allergies take time to develop and are not due to recent diet changes. Most pets who develop food allergies have been eating the offending food with little problem for years. Common food allergens can include any major protein or carbohydrate source in the pet’s food.

In some mild cases, the itchiness can be treated with anti-histamines or even steroids for a short period of time. However, pet owners need to be aware that allergies are not a condition that can be cured. The good news though, is that they can be well-managed with a team effort from the pet owner and the veterinary team.

Utilizing diagnostic tests such as blood testing and even skin allergy tests, veterinarians can often find ways to reduce the pet’s discomfort level. In some cases, your family veterinarian may refer you and your pet to a veterinary dermatologist. This specialist has many more diagnostic and treatment resources available to bring relief to your pet. In all cases, you, the pet owner, are a vital part of the team. It will be up to you to make sure that all pets in the household are treated for fleas or that your pet stays on the recommended hypo-allergenic diet and doesn’t sneak other treats!

Allergies are not only one of the most frequent reasons for a trip to the veterinarian, but are also a big reason for pet owners becoming frustrated with their pet. Working with your veterinary team to identify what is causing your pet’s symptoms will help keep your four-legged family member right where he needs to be…with you!

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Treat Your Dog’s Teeth With Doggie Dental Treats

When rewarding your dog, why not treat him with dental treats? Treating your dog with dental treats will not only seem like a reward for Rover but it will also help to clean his teeth and gums. My own dogs really like the Greenies dental treats. When they hear me open the bag they are right there with toothy smiles on their faces. The Chihuahuas, the Border Collies, and the St. Bernard all clamor to get their Greenie. I feel good giving them these treats because the dogs love them, and I love the fact that I am helping clean their breath, their teeth, and their gums. Greenies are available for the smallest member of the pack to the largest.

My dogs also love the taste of rawhide. CET Hextra Premium Chews have combined antimicrobial chlorhexidine with rawhide in a tasty chew for all sizes of dogs. Dental health in our dogs is important because studies have shown that plaque buildup on teeth has been connected to heart and other organ disease. Affecting 85% of adult dogs, periodontal disease causes bad breath, tooth loss, and pain. Good dental health for dogs can be as easy as brushing your dog’s teeth using a dog toothbrush and doggie toothpaste. This dog toothpaste tastes good to your dog and comes in several flavors; best of all, it will not harm them if they swallow it. For all of these products and other doggie dental treats, go to Soon your dog will be smiling his delightful doggy grin.

All About Ferrets is a website dedicated to the health and care of ferrets. There are a lot of videos, articles and other information concerning the care of ferrets. The website also has ferret food, toys, cages, litter boxes and features gifts, calendars and jewelry for ferret lovers. The website was created by a veterinarian, Debra Garrison and you can join the Facebook fan page with other over 17,000 ferret fans at is your source for everything about ferrets. Ferret tips and information as well as ferret gear, food, toys, cages and other supplies to keep your ferret healthy and active.

Come By and Meet Deborah, Our New Groomer

We now have a full-time groomer on our staff. Deborah Ramos has 3 years of experience and has been doing a wonderful job. Your grooming service can be just a refreshing bath and nail trim or a summer shave down. We invite you to drop by and meet Deborah and schedule your pet for a spa treatment today.


Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July to you,


Remember your pets on July 4th and use these tips to keep them safe.
Best tip is to keep your pet indoors during the festivities. Even the most calm dog can get spooked from the noise of the fireworks. I have had dogs jump fences, chew through fences, and break windows in attempts to flee. If your dog is showing a lot of fear from the noise, best place for him is in a kennel in a dark room.
Our first instinct when dogs are trembling from the noise is to soothe the dog and  pay extra attention to him. This behavior from us actually reinforces the fear in the dog and makes it worse. It is important that you remain calm and don’t baby the dog. This is the first step in teaching the dog not to fear the noise. If they become to terrified, put them in their safe place during the festivities, then get with an animal trainer to desensitize them to loud noises before the next holiday.
If taking your pet with you to a holiday festivity,
  1. Make sure you have proper identification and a leash on him so you can control him.
  2. Watch your alcoholic spirits and open glasses to keep your pet from accidentally ingesting your drinks. Alcohol is potentially poisonous to pets.
  3. Avoid feeding your pet scraps from your grill. Any diet change can upset your pet’s digestive system and ruin your picnic with a trip to the animal ER.Especially avoid foods such as onions, avocado, chocolate, grapes, raisins, and  macadamia nuts.
  4. Avoid applying sunscreen or insect repellent not intended for pets on your pet. They can lick it and ingestion can result in drooling, vomiting , diarrhea and othe problems warranting another visit to the ER.
  5. Keep pets away from the fireworks, matches, candles, BBQ pits, Tiki torches, citronella candles and lighter fluid. If eaten these products can also irritate the stomach.
  6. Be careful around pools. Not all dogs are expert swimmers. Also, pool water contains chlorine and can cause problems if your dog drinks too much of it.
  7. Watch your pet for signs of heat stroke. Not all pets can tolerate the heat and can only cool themselves through panting. Make sure there is plenty of shade and cool water available for your pet. Also hot concrete and asphalt can burn their feet and never leave your dog in the car.
  8. Some products that may help calm your dog tranquilizers available from your veterinarian,  melatonin 1 – 3 mg give before the fireworks, Bach Rescue Remedy – Natural Stress Reliever (10 mL)
More information on fireworks can be found at
We will be closed Saturday, July 4th
Enjoy your holiday,
Debra Garrison, DVM
As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous from the picnic table, please contact your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.