One of the 10 top reasons dogs and cats visit the veterinarian are skin and ear problems. In Alaska, we are lucky that we do not have fleas, which is one of the main causes of itchy skin in dogs and cats in the lower 48. In Alaska, we can have occasional ectoparasites (mange, lice) that cause itchy skin, but the majority of skin problems are due to allergies, either food or environmental (atopy).
Common diagnostic steps for determining if your dog or cat has allergies are skin scrapings (scraping for parasites), skin cytologies (cytology to see if yeast or bacteria is present on the skin), food elimination trials, serum testing (blood testing) and intradermal skin testing (only performed at the veterinary specialist’s clinic in Anchorage – www.vsoak.com). Different medications such as antibiotics, yeast medications, anti-histamines and immunomodulators (steroids and cyclosporine) can help keep your dog/cat comfortable. Allergies are frustrating and they are never cured but we can help you develop a treatment plan for your pet to make them more comfortable and decrease allergy symptoms.