Thursday, July 30, 2020

Finding Solutions to Cat and Dog Allergies in Pittsburgh, PA

Many pet owners dread the fall season, due to the allergies in dogs and cats that become aggravated this time of year. Of course, allergies can happen any time of year, but we often see the greatest number of allergy cases in the fall. Does your pet become unnaturally itchy and scratchy when the days start growing shorter and the leaves start changing? They’re not alone! Many dogs and cats suffer from allergies, which cause severe itching of the skin. It’s important to seek medical attention for your itchy pet, because their condition will likely get worse.

How Can I Tell if My Pet is Itching?

Our canine and feline friends can be quite sneaky about their symptoms, and may not readily reveal their discomfort. If you don’t catch your pet scratching and licking themselves in a frenzy, you might be able to look for other signs, such as:
  • Baldness, especially between the toes, under the armpits, and on the sides and belly (but baldness can occur anywhere your pet is scratching and licking the most)
  • Areas of skin that appear raw and red (evidence of scratching and licking repeatedly)
  • Noticeable, unpleasant odor coming from the skin and/or ears
  • Red, swollen ears (could indicate an ear infection)
  • Dry, scaly patches on the skin

What Kinds of Things are Dogs and Cats Allergic To?

The allergens that tend to affect our pets most include:
  • Tree pollen
  • Grass
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Flea saliva
  • Proteins such as chicken, eggs, and pork
  • Synthetic fabrics
  • Cleaning sprays
  • Lawn treatments

Can My Pet’s Allergies be Cured?

Cat and dog allergies are not permanently curable. However, this doesn’t mean your pet can’t live
more comfortably and experience fewer, less intense allergy symptoms. With the correct diagnosis
and the right treatment plan, we can make your pet’s allergies more manageable overall.

Diagnosing the Allergy

To make a proper diagnosis, we’ll need to see your pet for an examination and potentially run some
tests to get as much information as we can about their condition. This might include blood testing,
skin testing, or possibly referring your pet to a dermatologist for more specialized testing.

Treatment Options

At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we offer the following treatment options for cat and dog
  • Cytopoint - An anti-itch injection
  • Apoquel - An oral anti-itch medication available in tablet and topical form
  • Sublingual immunotherapy - Involves dispensing drops made from allergenic extracts under the tongue (rather than injecting them into the body) to diagnose and treat allergies in pets
  • Steroids - To help reduce inflammation and itching
  • Temaril-P - An combination antihistamine and corticosteroid medication for itching
  • Hypoallergenic foods and treats - If your pet has an allergy to one or more ingredients in their current food, they could benefit from one of our specialized diets

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tick-Borne Illnesses & Lyme Disease in Dogs & Cats in Pittsburgh, PA

Ticks are very prominent in and around Pittsburgh, PA, and the greater New England area.
They threaten not only the health of our pets, but our human family, too. Ticks carry a number of tick-borne illnesses, the most prominent of which is Lyme disease. At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we believe preventing illness is just as (if not more) important than treating it. Taking simple steps to prevent Lyme disease is far better for you and your pet than treating this debilitating disease.

Understanding Lyme Disease

In order to fully prevent Lyme disease in dogs and cats, it’s important to understand where it comes from. Lyme disease is most prevalent in the eastern and western black-legged tick, commonly referred to as the deer tick. These critters feed on rodents as larvae or nymphs, and pick up B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, from the small mammals. As adults, black-legged ticks generally feed on deer; however, deer are not known to transmit B. burgdorferi. It is usually at the adult stage that these ticks may feed on dogs, cats, or humans who come across their path, thereby potentially transmitting Lyme disease to their host. Lyme disease transmission does not happen immediately after the tick bites. Instead, it takes from 24-48 hours while the tick engorges itself for the disease to be transmitted.

Preventing Tick Encounters & Disease Transmission

Preventing Lyme disease requires some diligence and forethought, all of which is far easier than treating the disease. Here’s what you can do to prevent tick encounters and Lyme disease:
  • Remove tick-friendly debris from your yard such as leaf litter, wood piles, etc. and keep shrubbery and grass well-trimmed.
  • When hiking in tick-infested areas, stick to the middle of well-worn paths and regularly check your dog (and yourself!) for ticks.
  • Keep your dogs and cats on year-round tick prevention.
  • If your dog is at an increased risk of Lyme disease, it might be beneficial to administer the Lyme disease vaccine, which can offer them further protection.
  • Always check your dog for ticks after coming in from outdoors—even if they were just in the backyard.

Tick Removal Tips

If your pet does end up having a tick attached to them, it’s important to remove it as soon as
possible. Follow these tips for safe, quick removal:
  • Put on gloves or have a paper towel or other barrier between your hand and the tick.
  • Use thin tweezers and pinch the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull straight up in a firm motion to dislodge the tick. Do NOT twist the tick!
  • If you are concerned about Lyme disease infection, place the tick in a plastic baggie or
  • other sealed container to bring to your veterinarian’s office for identification and possible testing.
  • Clean the bite area on your pet and watch the area closely for the next few days to ensure an infection doesn’t develop.
For more tips about tick and Lyme disease prevention, please reach out to us, or ask us at your
next visit!