This past winter, we got so much rain even in Los Angeles. The scenery has been amazing- snow in the mountains, and the blooming of the wild flowers. All the sudden southern California became “green” in stead of the “yellow” that we are accustom to.
However, we also have been seeing so many more itchy pets compared to this time of the year in the past, because of the change of season, as well as the wild party those pollens are having this year.
It’s a well-accepted concept that our pets, are just like us, can suffer from allergies. Weather it’s seasonal allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, contact allergies from chemicals, detergents, fertilizers, or allergies from insect bites such as fleas, ticks, spiders. The signs (symptoms) can be quite similar to humans. Itchy skin, rashes and bumps sometimes with crusts, itchy face and ears, watery eyes, sneezing, and the more severe ones can get secondary yeast or bacterial infections from non-stop scratching and licking. Just like in human medicine, most of the available medications address the signs by suppressing or tricking the immune system. You see, the reason for allergies is because for some reasons, the immune system overreacts to a stimulant which it doesn’t recognize, or it “thinks” that it doesn’t recognize. Just like our friend Fourthie, he barks ferociously and works himself up like the worst dog abuser is approaching, whenever there’s someone who is not his mom or a close friend walks up to their doorsteps. That someone can be legitimately a stranger, but most of the time, that person is an acquaintance that he has already met. Almost always, we tell Fourthie to stop by giving him firm verbal order, or distract him with a funky voice, a toy, or something else. That’s what we do in conventional medicine as well. We use medications to suppress, or to distract the immune system, so it won’t continue releasing cells and chemicals that trigger all the amplified responses, and drive the body crazy with rashes, pain, fever, severe itchiness, low appetite and energy, indigestion, and more.
It all seems to make sense, and it is important to help the overly reacting immune system to snap out of that intense and unnecessary status, with something that works quickly and effectively on the acute phase. However, just like Fourthie will bark at the next person coming up, the immune system will most likely to react when it encounter the next stimulus which it deems “bad.”
In other words, allergies are more “manageable” rather than “fixable.”
Once we address the acute phase where the pet is constantly bothered by itching, infections and sneezing, we should have a sustainable longterm plan to decrease the recurrent episodes of severe discomfort. Here are the options for the directions of pursuit:
Written by Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA