Allergy season is fast approaching and supermarkets are stocking up their shelves with tissues and medicines to help people deal with the problems a freshly mowed lawn can bring.
But veterinary surgeon Shane Murray, owner of Braemar Veterinary Clinic on the Upper Lisburn Road, wants us to spare a thought for our pets at this time of year too.
Mr Murray said: “Dog allergies are becoming an increasingly common problem across western Europe. Taking a dog for a walk in a freshly cut field can cause considerable misery to a pet if they suffer from an allergy. The symptoms are many and can include: itching, sore ears with head shaking, chewing at their paws, red and inflamed skin around their arm pits and between their back legs —as well as streaming eyes, runny noses and sneezing.”
Mr Murray has compiled a top six list to help pet owners in south Belfast keep these allergy symptoms under control.
1. Try to avoid the allergen. Rule out possibilities as you would do yourself if you broke out in a rash.
2. Treat any secondary bacteria infections with antibiotics or medicated shampoos.
3. Excellent flea control to minimise skin flare-ups
4. Give your pet supplements to improve their general skin condition – essential fatty acids and evening primrose oil can help a lot
5. Vets can recommend anti-histamines, careful use of low dose steroids and autogenous vaccines that are all designed to reduce the allergy.
6. Case continuity – if a dog has broken his leg or something, of course it’s perfectly fine to use a different vet.
But when it comes to allergies and skin problems, always ask for the same veterinary surgeon to make your follow up appointments with. This point Mr Murray can’t stress enough: “It’s most frustrating for pet owners who go to the vets all the time and receive the same treatment, when quite often the case, something new needs to be tried — you can’t cure allergies, only manage them.”