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Category: HEALTH

Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

My Dog Has Been Diagnosed with Atopic Dermatitis. What’s Next?

 

Atopic dermatitis is similar to asthma in people, but as an allergic skin condition, it causes your pet to itch. It’s caused by a dog’s natural sensitivity to common environmental substances like pollen, mold spores, and dust mites. There are many treatment options to consider, but in general it takes a combination of treatments to manage your pet’s symptoms, and it may take several tries to get it right.

Taking the First Step.

 

Each pet is different, and response to treatment depends on biology, breed, and environmental factors. There’s no single right answer – what works for one pet might have no effect on another. Your veterinarian will help you work through the process to get your pet back to feeling him or herself.

There are two ways to identify factors in your pet’s environment that are causing discomfort: intradermal skin testing and blood testing. Once you are able to determine the offending allergens, you can work to control them and treat your pet as appropriate.

What’s next?

 

Depending on what you find through allergy testing, your vet may recommend allergen-specific immunotherapy to help desensitize your pet to the offending allergens. This involves exposing your dog to gradually increasing amounts of the allergens to which he’s reacting. Think of it as having your dog face his fears: over time, his body will become accustomed to these allergens and the severity and frequency of symptoms will lessen. Immunotherapy is the only way to change the long-term course of atopic dermatitis.

Your veterinarian may also recommend techniques to reduce exposure to the allergens in your pet’s environment. Other medical options include steroids and cyclosporine, which are generally effective but can cause side effects and long-term health issues for some pets. Antihistamines, fatty acids, and topical therapies can also help in mild cases of atopic dermatitis, especially when paired with other forms of treatment. Often, treating atopic dermatitis requires several different modes of treatment, and your pet may need to continue taking medications even during immunotherapy.

Besides medical treatment, What can I do?

 

Keeping your pet’s environment clean and free of allergens, combined with regular baths for your pet, can go a long way in giving him relief from the itchiness of atopic dermatitis.

Depending on the allergens affecting your pet, here are some ways to keep your pet’s environment clean:

Fungi and Mould Control

 

Sensitivity to moulds and fungi can cause allergies in many dogs. Here’s how to control fungi and mould:

  • Keep your pet off of the lawn after mowing and away from leaf litter and other organic debris
  • Reduce excessive indoor moisture in basements, bathrooms, etc.
  • Wash food and water bowls frequently using hot, soapy water
  • Bathe your dog with hypoallergenic shampoos as recommended by your veterinarian

 

Storage Mite Control

 

Ingestion of storage mites, sometimes found in dry pet food, may be a cause of allergies. To prevent this,

  • Buy small bags of food (less than a 30-day supply)
  • Store food in cool, dry areas in airtight containers
  • Consider an all-canned diet

 

Dust Mite Control

 

Hypersensitivity to house dust mites is another common allergy. It’s pretty difficult to completely eliminate dust mites, but because they prefer warm, humid environments and often live in beds, carpets, and furniture, you can reduce their numbers using certain techniques:

  • Reduce carpeting and upholstered furniture, and vacuum often
  • Reduce dust collectors such as houseplants
  • Change furnace and air conditioning filters often
  • Wash your pet’s bedding weekly in hot water
  • Cover dog beds with plastic

Itching in dogs can be caused by fleas, food or environmental allergens such as pollens, molds or house-dust mites.

 

The 4 most common allergies are:

 

  • Flea allergy
  • Environmental allergens like pollen, mould and dust mites
  • Food allergy
  • Contact allergy (carpets, deodrants, and shampoo)
Little girl taking care of her dog and cat

Basic Puppy Training Timeline

7-8 weeks old

 

Basic Cues (Sit, Stay, Come)

You can start with basic cues as early as 7 weeks old: Say a cue such as “sit” once. Use a treat to position your dog into a sitting position. Once sitting, give your puppy the treat and some praise.

 

Leash Training

You can start leash training indoors at this age. Because puppies don’t have their full vaccinations at this point, it is unsafe for them to be walking around where other dogs walk.

Start by letting them wear the collar/harness for short amounts of time while providing treats. Increase this duration slowly. Once your puppy knows how to come to you, you can walk around inside on the leash with no distractions. You can move the training outside once your puppy has all their vaccinations.

 

General Handling

Get your puppy used to being touched. Gently rub their ears and paws while rewarding them. This will get them used to having those areas touched and will make veterinary visits and nail trims less stressful when they are older!

 

8-10 weeks old

 
Crate Training

Your puppy should see their crate as a safe and calm place. Start by bringing them to their crate for 10- minute intervals while they are nice and calm. Reward them for going in their crate. You can even feed them in their crate to create a positive environment.

 

10-12 weeks old

 
Learning Not to Bite

Puppies become mouthy at this age. Putting things in their mouths is how they explore their world, but it is important to teach them not to bite your hands or ankles. When they start biting at you, redirect them to a more appropriate object to bite, such as a toy.

 

12-16 weeks old

 
Potty Training

Maintaining a schedule is important for potty training. Make sure to take your puppy out first thing in the morning, after eating, and after playtime and naps throughout the day. At this point they should start having enough bladder control to learn to hold it. Reward your puppy with a treat every time they go to the bathroom outside.

 

6 months old

 

Puppies are entering the adolescence stage by this point, and it is the most difficult stage to start training at. That is why it is important to start training them as young as possible! At this stage you will continue training to solidify and strengthen their skills in more public and distracting settings such as dog parks.

Why cats make amazing companions?

Cats are quiet

 

If noise levels are a concern in your living situation, cats are a great choice of pet. Even the quietest bark will likely be much louder than the most insistent meowing. Depending on the cat, you may need to worry about other sounds such as them knocking things off of surfaces or running around at top speed, but they are still likely to be quieter overall. 

Cats are low-maintenance

 

Compared to dogs, cats are a low maintenance pet. They don’t require formal training, they don’t need to be taken out multiple times a day, and they’re even able to take care of basic self-cleaning. Of course, long-haired cats will still require regular grooming, but it will likely involve less regular grooming than long-haired dogs.

 

Cats are easy to train

 

One of the biggest challenges dog owners need to overcome is the process of house-training a new puppy. Kittens, on the other hand, usually know how to use the litter box as soon as you bring them home. All you need to do is show them where it is, and they’ll instinctively use it. 

 

Cats make great apartment pets

 

When it comes to pets in apartments, cats are often better suited than dogs. Compared to dogs, cats require less space and can take better advantage of vertical space. Even in apartments with small square footage, you can make the space comfortable for cats by adding different vertical levels. Plus, since they use litter boxes, they don’t need to be taken outside multiple times a day – something that can be time-consuming if you live in a large apartment building.

Cats are independent

 

One of the best things about cats is that they are very independent creatures. Unlike dogs, who require quite a high level of attention each day, cats are quite happy to have time to themselves. In fact, cats will sleep for about 15 hours a day so you don’t have to worry about them being too bored when you’re at work. When you are home, cats are also more likely to be content with just being in your company, whereas dogs may demand your undivided attention.

Cats keep unwanted pests out of your house

 

Cats are hardwired to stalk, hunt, and pounce on their prey, which makes them perfect for keeping your home free of unwanted pests – be it mice, bugs, or something else. Even their presence can be enough of a deterrent for rodents as their scent can act as a repellent.

How to improve your senior pet’s quality of life?

Our pets are truly members of the family, offering us love and companionship. It’s not always easy to see our beloved pets enter their senior years, but understanding their needs can help keep them happy and healthy.

Here are a few points to consider.

 

Take particular care on health and wellness

It is important to take your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness care. The doctor may suggest routine lab work to monitor for abnormalities. Just like humans, pets can develop issues with organ function as they age. Medications can help regulate the functioning of their heart, kidneys, liver, and thyroid, and this will increase their comfort and potentially help prolong their life. Also like humans, pets are susceptible to developing arthritis. Supplements, medications, acupuncture, or physical therapy can help their ability to remain active.

 

Focus on his cognitive function

Like humans who become senile or develop dementia, animals can have cognitive dysfunction. We may relate many of these symptoms to normal aging – symptoms such as pacing, forgetting daily routines, or having accidents in the house. A doctor can help diagnose cognitive dysfunction. If properly managed, it is possible to reduce the symptoms and increase your pet’s quality of life.

 

Give him the nutrition that is required at his age

Switch your pet’s food to one that’s specially formulated for seniors. A specialized diet can address an aging lifestyle. You will find a number of diets that increase fiber and add in supplements for joint health. Fatty acid supplements like fish oil can help maintain healthy skin and a healthy coat.

 

Make sure he feels comfortable

Comfort is key. Make sure you provide your senior pet with plenty of cushy bedding around your home and in your car. Try laying down rugs or runners to help your pet with traction on tile or hardwood. Does your pet love being social or going on walks but isn’t as physically capable? Think about getting your pet a wagon or stroller, allowing relaxation while enjoying the things they love! Have them join you at outdoor cafes for some low-key socialization. Kitties who enjoy the outdoors may benefit from a screened-in patio, bringing the outdoors inside.

 

Ensure that your senior pet has an active lifestyle

Stay active, or as active as possible. Keeping your pet mobile will help keep muscles and joints healthy. Keep up the frequent walks and throw the ball around, but limit exercise time so your pet won’t overdo it. Also, monitor for overheating on warmer days. Don’t forget to encourage an active mind; practice training exercises and engage your pet with toys that provide a mental challenge. For the food-motivated, play games that offer treats as prizes!

Allowing your pet to maintain its familiar lifestyle is paramount during the senior years. This, combined with routine medical care to manage physical health, can make all the difference in quality of life.