KAHLER: Allergies, dog's response create vicious cycle

June 17, 2013 

— Bogie licks and chews at his feet to the point that they are now red and swollen. Pauline says her dog has been treated with various antibiotics and corticosteroids, but as the dosage of cortisone pills decreases, the incessant licking increases. Pauline has been told Bogie has allergies, and I would have to agree.

Inhaled allergens in humans commonly cause eye irritation. In dogs, these types of allergies can cause itchy skin. So can contact allergies.

Allergies usually worsen with time as the response to them gets more and more intense, because the immune system is hyper-reacting to something in the environment. Over time, that response becomes more exaggerated.

The self-trauma stemming from the allergic response can exacerbate the inflammation and can lead to bacterial infections or a yeast infection.

Bogie needs to be tested for inhaled allergies specific to his geographic area — the Central Valley. This can be done through blood or skin testing. Unfortunately, it is not possible to test for every possible allergen, so a definitive diagnosis may still elude us even with the testing. This, however, is not common.

He needs cultures for bacteria and skin swabs for microscopic examination before a treatment plan can be formulated. Once the results are in from the cultures, treatment can start. I would also start anti-inflammatory treatment to try and bring Bogie some much-needed relief. The medications used for these therapies will be determined by his veterinarian.

When the allergy testing results are in, the next step is to determine if allergy injections are necessary. This therapy can usually be done at home and can have excellent results in desensitizing Bogie to whatever is causing the irritation. Not all patients respond well to desensitization, and these patients will likely have to be medicated when the symptoms warrant.

There are other possible allergic conditions that might be causing Bogie's condition. He may need to have a diet assessment, for example, to determine if a diet allergy is suspected.

Obviously, cases like Bogie's are complex and there is no single therapy. One thing is certain: Bogie is miserable and needs to visit his veterinarian for a treatment that results in relief.

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.

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