Pet Allergy Case Study: Holly

Allergies affect at least 1 in 10 dogs in the UK and can present in many ways such as itching, chewing and licking of the skin, discoloration of the coat and hairloss, ear infections and discomfort, rubbing of the eyes, sneezing, coughing and tummy upsets.

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Investigations into allergies require a methodical approach of detailed history taking, all over examination of ears, coat and skin and carrying out appropriate tests.

There are now some highly effective and safe veterinary treatments available for managing frustrating allergies and to help improve our pets’ quality of life and comfort.

A recent case we have seen at Scarsdale Vets is Holly a 1 and a half year old Labrador Retriever.

Holly’s Symptoms

Holly’s owner brought her to our Stapenhill practice to see Vet Paul Revell in January after noticing she had a sore ear. Vet Jen Lees then took over her treatment but unfortunately the ear didn’t clear up as expected despite various ear drops and cleaning regimes. Swabs were also taken.

In March Holly also started chewing and licking her left paw so her owner took her straight to our Stretton practice as she thought Holly may have something in her paw.

The vet on duty at Stretton just happened to be Dermatologist and Vet Paul Sands and straight away he suspected an allergy and recommended Holly be referred to Pride Veterinary Centre.

Holly’s Diagnosis & Treatment

At the referral appointment at Pride Veterinary Cenre, Paul took some skin samples and further ear-swabs and they discussed an 8-week diet trial to see if this might be the cause.

What Is A Diet Trial?

A diet trial is used for investigation of possible food allergy and involves offering the pet either a home prepared diet of a novel single protein source (one that the pet has not previously eaten) or one of very few reliable low allergen diets from your vet, for a period of 8 – 12 weeks.

Holly’s Progress

Holly then went to see Paul some weeks later for a check-up and he was really pleased with her progress. He also took further samples, just from her paw this time which showed an overgrowth of skin yeast, often seen in cases of inflamed skin or ear disease. Note that this is not necessarily linked to diet!

As well as the food trial Holly’s owner has also been bathing her paw in hibi-scrub and cider apple vinegar as these can help reduce surface infection.

If Hollys skin and ear issues resolve and stay resolved by the end of the trial, she will switch back to her previous diet to see if this leads to relapse of the inflammation. If it does, then diet may indeed be the culprit.

An alternative way to re-challenge Holly would be to simply add 1 single protein ingredient at a time to her strict diet trial to see if we can be more specific in detecting the offending food allergen(s).

However, it should be noted that Holly may not be found to be food allergic, in which case we can investigate her for environmental allergens.

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