Spring Pollens can Cause Skin Allergies in Pets

In the past weeks clouds of yellow pollen have been seen blowing out over Tasman Bay from the pine forests of Rabbit Islands. The rain leaves slicks of yellow goo in our gutters.

Skin irritation is the most common reason pets are brought to the vet. And allergy to pollens is a common cause of skin irritation. Not often pine pollen. It is too large to readily penetrate the skin barrier. But many other less obvious pollens are shed at this time of year and can cause seasonal allergy. There are several types of skin allergy. Allergy to pollens and house mite dust is called atopy and is the most common skin allergy in dogs and common in cats too. There are also contact allergies with Tradescantia (Wandering Willie) a very common plant contact allergen in Nelson dogs. Allergy to flea bites is common in cats and dogs. Food allergy is a reaction to a specific protein in the diet that can cause severe skin lesions.

Skin damaged by allergic inflammation and scratching is very susceptible to bacterial or yeast infection which often complicates the picture.

Skin parasites such as scabies are much less common now but the lesions can look very like allergic skin disease.

That is the big challenge with skin disease. The skin has only a few ways to respond to damage so lesions can look similar but there are hundreds of different things that cause the damage. Most of the time we can narrow the field down quickly and there are now excellent products for managing allergy.

If your pet has an itchy skin bring it to us early. Once the skin is damaged by scratching and the secondary bacterial and yeast infections it is often much harder to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause. Effective prevention or long-term management is dependent on an accurate diagnosis.

Many of you will know Duncan Graham, a former partner at Halifax. He has focussed on solving difficult skin disease cases in the last twenty years, seeing referrals throughout the South Island and up to Palmerston North. He is still seeing referral cases at Halifax on Tuesdays. Just ask us if you want to benefit from Duncan’s expertise.


Good Health to you and your pets

The Halifax team