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Pet allergies

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Ellie’s got an itch she just can’t scratch: she just can’t seem to shake her allergies.

“There’s allergic pets all over the country, but here in the southeast, we’re kind of in this allergy belt,” explains Dr. Steve Lemarie, a dermatologist with Southeastern Veterinary Specialists. “Whether you subscribe to global warming or not, the whole landscape of allergies in animals and people is changing.”

Dr. Lemarie says among people and pets there’s a trend toward later-onset allergies.

For humans, the problem is breathing in our allergens, for the most part. For dogs, it’s percutaneous absorption.  That means it comes in through their paws or skin.

“The main symptom is itch,” Dr. Lemarie says. “People complain about their dog itching, or red, itchy ear disease, so those are some of the big things. Some of the common distribution points for allergy in the dog is the face.  Sometimes we see dogs that look like they have goggles on, they have periocular disease and then another big one is foot licking or foot chewing.”

Dr. Lemarie tests for 67 different things, and says it’s not uncommon for a dog to be allergic to 35 or 40 of them: “We test for tree pollens, grass pollens, weeds, molds, insects, environmentals and that’s kinda the core groups we test for.”

Through immunotherapy Dr. Lemarie injects a small dose of the allergen slowly building up the animal’s tolerance.

It can be a long process, but a small prick every couple weeks can help Ellie keep the itching and scratching at bay.