Here comes summer, but we need to get through spring, the season where allergies begin to raise their ugly heads.
Our dogs and cats are no different. It was always fleas that were the number one culprit when it came to allergies. The sight of a poor dog constantly scratching, usually at the lower part of its back, till the condition became so bad hair would fall out, the skin would be constantly oozing serum, in short the dogs smelt and looked terrible. Cats were never quite that bad but they did continually scratch too, with the inevitable ‘flea eggs’ deposited everywhere. They were however not flea eggs that we saw, but rather little black granules. Almost like a grain of sand. If you wet them they turned brick red. This was in fact flea manure,partly digested blood!
An easy way to test if your pet has fleas is to have them sleep on a nice white sheet overnight. In the morning very gently pick up all four corners and slowly agitate the material until whatever is present accumulates in the centre. If it is typical ‘flea dirt’ and you can confirm this with the water test, you have all the proof you need.
Fleas should not be a problem for your pet today. There are a great number of tablets, spot-ons, and collars that will keep them at bay. The problem always was that for every flea on your pet there are another 25 waiting in the wings as eggs or larvae, ready to reinfest your pet.
The important thing about all of these products is that you must follow the directions. They will not control the flea problem in your household unless used regularly, following the manufacturers recommendations. What if your pet still scratches? Well, you have to look elsewhere.
Food allergies are a possibility, as are dust mites that inhabit your home.
Over my years in practice though there is one other standout that causes severe allergies. Wandering Jew, it is a dark green, lush looking weed that grows in a prostrate fashion in shaded and dampish areas. It always feels cool to touch, which is why your dog loves to lie on it on a hot day. This weed is not easy to kill! Smothering it with black plastic works well for me.
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