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The Vet Will See You Now

Oct 30, 2019 01:03PM

Stop the Itch: Allergies 101

Does your dog keep you awake at night with constant scratching, licking, and chewing at their skin? Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies when their immune systems acquire sensitivities to environmental allergens, such as plant pollens, mold spores, dust mites, cat dander, food ingredients, fleabites, and certain shampoos or perfumes. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested, or when they come into contact with your dog’s skin.  

How are allergies treated in dogs? Traditional first-line therapies often include medications, such as antibiotics and cortisone, which are necessary to treat an active inflammatory skin process but don’t offer prolonged relief and oftentimes have undesirable side effects—especially if used long-term.  

Improved therapies are now available for longer, safer, and more effective management, including Apoquel (oral tablet) and Cytopoint (injectable solution). These newer treatment options work to break the itching cycle by blocking receptors in the body that react to proteins called cytokines, or by binding up specific cytokines that trigger itching with a class of substances called monoclonal antibodies. Both medications are generally well tolerated, have minimal side effects, and almost no interactions with other medications.  

Utilizing these newer medications, in addition to approaching the management of allergic skin disease with diet therapy, Eastern medicine, topical treatments, and supplements creates many effective options to help our animal patients. This multimodal approach has enabled veterinarians to minimize the use of cortisone, ultimately reducing its long-term side effects. 

—Brad Cahoon, DVM, Owner  //  Veterinary Healing Center  120 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 4, Folsom, 916-889-7387, vethealingfolsom.com  //  2222 Francisco Drive, Suite 150, El Dorado Hills, 916-933-6030, vethealingeldoradohills.com


Bone Appétit: The Great Grain Debate

There has been significant discussion in the pet world over the question of grain-free pet food and its potential to influence a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Historically, this condition was found predominantly in specific, large-breed dogs. From 2014-2017, there were seven reported cases of this malady.  

The issue is a contentious one, pitting several groups against each other. Most holistic veterinarians have dismissed the concern, while many traditional Western veterinarians have trumpeted it.

In June, the FDA took the unusual step of publicizing some, but not all, of the brands of dog food that were mentioned in a small number of case reports. The bizarre announcement was troubling—given that in the same statement they were clear they hadn’t found actual causation between DCM and any specific brand or ingredients; they also recommended that people don’t switch pet foods.  

Pet food is a $91 billion global marketplace, which is now dominated by Mars Petcare and Nestlé Purina Petcare, whom account for 70% of domestic pet food sales. Needless to say, influencing purchasing decisions is a big dollar game. Mars has emerged as the top corporate owner of veterinary practices, including ownership of Banfield, BluePearl, Pet Partners, and—most recently—VCA, which they purchased for $9.1 billion in September 2017.

The FDA’s move has increased percolating concerns among independent canine nutritionists who wonder whether pet food goliaths are using their overwhelming market positions to influence fear among dog owners. A conclusion to the investigation is expected to be released next month. Whether the results show a correlation between pet food diets, simply the effects of over-breeding, or some other reason, your local pet food businesses stand prepared to inform you with the most current information possible. In the meantime, you’ll find healthy, grain-in and grain-free options for your pet at various local pet stores. 

—Bob Campbell, Co-Owner  //  sBarkles, LLC.  //  850 East Bidwell Street, Suite 150, Folsom  //  916-984-0102, sbarkles.com