Pet allergies—nothing to sneeze at

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Filed under Pharmacy Blog

Pets can suffer from allergies, too

Allergies affect people of all ages and can produce a variety of symptoms ranging from mild inconveniences such as red itchy eyes on one end of the scale all the way up to full blown anaphylactic reactions that can affect breathing and be life-threatening on the other end. Most of us pet owners know too well that some people are sometimes prevented from visiting us because they are allergic to our pets. My brother recently developed a cat allergy and he stopped coming over to visit until he found a temporary solution in the form of an antihistamine. After trying a variety of different medications he found one called loratadine, which is an antihistamine that works temporarily to suppress allergy symptoms.

The most common antihistamine that is used for allergies, however, is called diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This drug is extremely effective at suppressing the allergy symptoms, but it does have sedating properties. Most people who take diphenhydramine quickly find that their sneezing is replaced by yawning, neither of which is good to have while playing board games with the family. Loratadine (Claritin) on the other hand does a wonderful job at suppressing allergies but does not cause much drowsiness. Other antihistamines for humans include drugs such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), Chlorpheniramine, Desloratidine (Clarinex), and some others. Some of these have longer action, and some cause less drowsiness. Since product selection between these antihistamines could involve many factors including the potential of drug-drug interactions, it is extremely important to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before initiating therapy. Read More »

Helping pet parents and pet allergy sufferers coexist

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Filed under Pharmacy Blog

Pet owners and allergy sufferers can peacefully coexist

My brother came over last weekend and right away he started complaining that my cats were causing him to cough, and scratch his skin. For some reason this past year he developed an allergy to my cats and this has made planning family functions quite difficult. Even a simple cup of coffee and a chat now is not possible unless we meet at the local Starbucks.

At first I took it personally; I knew that my brother wasn’t a big fan of cats and I somehow felt that he was hatching some sort of plan to get me to see how much trouble my cats were. After he came over the last time however, I had no doubt that the rash I was seeing was real and he even began having a runny nose and other clear allergy symptoms. Sure, I know that some people have pet allergies but why did it have to be my own brother? As I sat there feeling bad I started wondering, can pets can be allergic to people? After thinking about it for a while, I decided to put my experiences and thoughts on paper so hopefully I can rid myself of resentments and maybe even help another person who may be facing a similar problem.

Here are some basic ground rules for pet owners and their house guests: Read More »

Finding the right treat for pets with grain allergies

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Filed under New Pet Products at PetMeds

Many pets are intolerant to grains in the diet

Did you know that before we started raising dogs as household pets they roamed free and ate mostly meat? It’s true! In fact, our pet’s digestive system isn’t really made to handle all the grains some pet foods and treats contain. That’s why many of our pets have an intolerance to grains. A diet high in grains such as wheat and corn can lead to problems such as stomachaches, ear infections, and even skin issues. Read More »

Food Allergies Vs. Food Intolerance in Pets

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

Food allergies in pets typically develop over a longer period of time than food intolerance.

A common question when evaluating allergic pets is whether a pet has a food allergy or a food intolerance. A food intolerance may be defined as when a pet cannot handle even a small amount of a particular food, meat, protein or grain source. Usually ingesting small amounts will lead to serious acute reactions, including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased gas, as well as even skin eruptions/hives and itching in severe situations. Most of the time the symptoms will resolve on their own, once the offending food has been cleared out of the system.   In rare cases, hospitalization, including IV fluid therapy may be needed if reactions are excessive.  Upon repeated exposure, similar or more serious intense reactions may occur.

Food allergies are typically developed over a more chronic period of time, and usually include the development of immune-mediated reactions in the digestive tract that may present as either acute development of digestive or skin symptoms or more chronic immune reactions over time.  Beef, dairy, wheat and corn are common offending allergens.  Diagnosis of food allergies is typically made by feeding a restricted novel protein diet over several weeks, during which symptoms will often lessen or resolve.  After the dietary trial is over, the original diet or proteins are then reintroduced, and then if symptoms occur, a diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.

Natural Allergy Treatment Alternatives for Pets (NAET)

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
natural-allergy-treatment-alternative-naet One of the most frustrating and relapsing chronic conditions seen in small animal medicine is the presence of skin allergies.  Inhalant and contact allergies to molds, grasses, trees, pollen, etc, as well as food and flea allergies lead to frequent itching and secondary bacterial and yeast infections of the skin and ears. This leads to increasing pet discomfort, as well as owner expense because of frequent veterinary visits. While antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, including antihistamines and cortisone may offer quick symptomatic relief, long-term relapses are common, as well as side effects from medications.

In addition, these palliative or suppressive measures fail to address the underlying causes of skin allergies which only perpetuates the problem long term. While veterinary dermatologists may offer blood and/or skin allergy testing, as well as exotic diet alternatives, such treatments are often quite expensive and require long-term commitment and offer at best a partial response.  One of the more exciting holistic alternatives now available for animal guardians in addressing frustrating skin allergies is known as Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET),  an allergy desensitization process developed for humans by Dr. Devi Nambudripad in 1983.

This drug free natural solution can potentially eliminate many types of allergies using a combination of selective energy balancing, testing, and treatment procedures from various disciplines of medicine, ranging from acupressure/acupuncture, kinesiology, chiropractic and nutritional medicine.

For many frustrating recurrent skin and ear problems, the NAET technique can possibly eliminate allergies through several weeks of treatment. To learn more about this exciting allergy treatment alternative, as well as to find a veterinary practitioner skilled in this form of treatment see www.naet.com

Sensitivities of Small Dog Breeds

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
Many small or toy breed dogs are believed to be more susceptible to allergic reactions or sensitivities to some pet meds and vaccinations Over the years there have been increasing health care preventative recommendations for both dogs and cats. Not only have increasing numbers of vaccinations been developed, however, increasing numbers of topical and oral pesticides against internal and external parasites (worms, fleas, and heartworms) are now being recommended for all pets. Over the years, however, many veterinarians have observed that smaller breeds in particular have an increasing numbers of allergic reactions as more and more products are used.

As a more holistic-oriented veterinarian, I’ve always wondered why the same dose of vaccination is to be used on two vastly different size breeds, such as a Chihuahua and a Great Dane. In fact we are just now starting to appreciate that smaller breeds may in fact be more chemically sensitive to the same doses of vaccinations. Many of us have also observed similar chemical sensitivities in many families of toy breeds regarding topical flea and tick medication ranging from local skin irritation to occasionally more serious systemic reactions involving the digestive or nervous system. On rare occasions reactions to oral heartworm preventative medication can also be seen.

I’ve observed that sometimes chemical sensitivities in the same dog may manifest later as a vaccination reaction. And while fortunately these types of reactions are rare, we must certainly be fully aware of these possibilities and continue to recognize that pets are individuals as are people. In addition, it’s also important to continue to practice good preventative medicine through proper vaccination and external and internal parasite control programs. However, should your pet suffer a chemical or vaccination reaction, more natural measures of flea and tick control, as well as infectious disease control should be implemented. Given the wide variety of products available it is probably best to consult with a holistic veterinarian www.AHVMA.org for the most appropriate products for your pet.

PetMeds® Holistic Allergy Treatments for Dogs

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
Over time some pets may become resistant to traditional allergy treatment. In these cases, holistic treatments may be an alternative option. Every spring and summer veterinarians face one of the most frustrating problems in recurrent contact/inhalant allergies in our pets. Some of the more common allergens include:

  • Pollens
  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Dander
  • Molds
  • Ragweed

Many of these allergens cause our canine pets to suffer from chronic itchy skin anywhere on the body, including behind the front legs, the feet and ears leading to secondary yeast and/or bacterial infections. While conventional medicine with powerful drugs like Cortisone and antibiotics often suppress these symptoms, dogs can become resistant to these drugs over time. In addition, there can be long term side effects on internal organs, including the liver and pancreas.  Having your dog tested for blood and/or skin allergy is an option, as is the development of allergy vaccines; however, these tests are very expensive.

Even with this extensive conventional medical approach, only 60 to 65% of dogs have some sort of response to allergy desensitization therapy.   Holistic medicine such as herbal therapy and constitutional homeopathy are excellent options for long term treatment, however, since skin symptoms can sometimes worsen before slowly improving, this process takes time, patience, and commitment from pet owners.

For alternative treatment options, working with a holistic veterinarian on an individualized approach may greatly help. There are some excellent herbs one could start with including licorice, stinging nettle, burdock, dandelion, and milk thistle.  Yucca Intensive is a wonderful product that has a natural saponin-like compound with an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effect when used topically or orally.

Another approach would be classical homeopathy but this requires a long term approach and patience as the goal is to cure the patient’s susceptibility to disease on every level over time. It is important for pet owners to realize that patience is critical if progress is to be made on a long term basis, and if one wants to avoid the potential side effects of conventional immune suppressive drug therapies.

PetMeds® Using Atopica to Manage Your Pet’s Allergies

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
Inhalant and contact skin allergies are indeed frustrating for many pet owners. Symptoms of allergies may include chronic itchy feet, face and ears, as well as secondary infections leading to increased patient discomfort. In years past it was often only prescription Prednisone that offered these pets significant symptomatic relief. However, the use of long term Prednisone or cortisone can lead to unwanted side effects including: The main ingredient in Atopica is cyclosporine and has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effect.

- Suppressing the immune system and thus the development of secondary infection

- Thinning of bones

- Premature aging

- Predisposing pets to diabetes if used long term.

Pets may also develop increased thirst, appetite and urination, as well as unwanted behavioral changes.  Several years ago Atopica came on the market and offered animal guardians a Prednisone alternative that truly worked, and without all of the side effects.

The main ingredient cyclosporine has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effect.  Side effects do occur in approximately one third of treated pets and most commonly includes digestive upset and vomiting.  Sometimes giving Atopica with a meal and/or with other prescription medications to prevent vomiting can help with this side effect.

Another major concern of clients is the high cost of using Atopica long term.  Some veterinarians will prescribe the antifungal Ketaconazole at the same time as Atopica, which can help lessen the dose of Atopica needed. There is also a generic now available, however, I have not found results consistent with the cheaper generic.

I have found Atopica affective in approximately 65% of treated pets, and often the dose can be tapered after several weeks to help lower the cost for those allergic pets who need allergy medication long term.  Using supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids may also help lower the dose of Atopica needed to control clinical signs.

PetMeds® Treating Itchy Hot Spots on Your Dog

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
hot-spots-wheaton-terrier Recently I was presented with a question of an itchy Wheaton Terrier who gets many hot spots from licking her tail along with flakey spots.  She is already on a supposed low allergy diet and is on topical flea medication. The common reasons why such a pet is still often itchy, include other type of allergies known as inhalant/contact allergies to molds, grasses, trees, dander and pollens.

Pets with these types of allergies often need either antihistamines orally such as Benadryl or Chlorpheniramine or sometimes stronger oral prescription medication such as Prednisone or Temaril-P. Some pets will need oral antibiotics as well to treat secondary bacterial skin infections. Many pets with these itchy hot spots respond to topical preparations like Corticare lotion or shampoo, as well as adding fatty acids such as to the daily diet.

Pet meds to Help Floppy-Eared Dogs

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
If you own a floppy eared dog such as a Golden Retriever, Basset Hound, or Beagle, you know they can often develop waxy and smelly ears. Many pet owners frequently visit the veterinarian to treat secondary yeast or bacterial infections that often accompany allergic conditions as well. In such dogs prone to recurrent ear infections, it is often helpful to use topical preparations that can allow the development of an acidic ph in the ear to discourage growth of yeast and bacteria as well as to dissolve wax. Dogs with floppy or long ears are often times more susceptible to recurring ear infections

Some of my favorite products include Epi-Otic, as well as Zinc Otic by Maxiguard. I have seen both products perform very well in cutting down on the frequency of ear infections. For many of my clients I will often recommend daily use for 1-2 weeks, and then twice to three times weekly as a maintenance.