A healthy coat for a healthy pet
Summer is well and truly here and with the transition from South Africa’s short spring into the beginning of summer, so can come allergic reactions and itchy skin. Also present are the hungry parasites that curse pets and humans alike — ticks and fleas, requiring that owners apply preventative treatments, be they topical or oral.
Both ticks and fleas can be the underlying cause of skin issues, but there can be other causes that can require lifelong treatment.
By applying a step-wise approach to eliminate the possible causes of skin issues, a diagnosis can be made and treatment initiated. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, so an effective and consistent flea treatment is essential in eliminating this as a problem.
To pinpoint other parasitic skin diseases such as mange caused by mites and lice, a vet may do a skin scraping, take hair samples and look for the parasites under a microscope. Parasitic skin diseases are usually easily treated once a diagnosis is made.
Skin infections can simply occur on their own or seen in allergic cases, where they contribute to the itchiness. If these infections are present, they are treated with antibiotics and antifungals.
A food allergy can cause itching in dogs from any age. It can be ruled out by doing an exclusion diet trial and then treated by eliminating the offending food allergen. An allergen is usually a protein that causes the body to react. A food allergy causes itchiness around the face, inside the ears, the feet and on the tummy.
Once other possible causes have been ruled out a vet will prescribe a specific prescription food formulated for diet trial purposes. It is critical that no other food or treats are given for up to 10 weeks because the smallest treat or other food will invalidate the trial. The biggest stumbling block with a food allergy is owner compliance, but a diet trial is worth persevering with, as it is the easiest and in the long run, cheapest way of controlling a food allergy.
Up to 50% of skin cases fall into the skin disease category of allergies to pollens, house dust mite and other environmental allergens. These allergens enter through an unhealthy skin barrier and cause inflammation in the body. This in turn causes itching and when scratched, causes further skin damage, and so the issue worsens. Secondary bacterial and yeast infections often complicate the allergic reactions.
Environmental allergies are usually recurring, seasonal and can be managed, although there is no outright cure and usually lifelong management is required, either ongoing or at times of the year when the problem surfaces. Environmental allergies are more difficult to treat as usually it is impossible to remove the cause.
Allergies can be frustrating for owners, but by working closely with your vet, the treatment results can be very rewarding. — Rebecca Haynes
Pet protection when needed most
As the silly season looms large in front of us, despite Covid-19 restrictions, South Africans are starting to prepare their holidays and making arrangements for the wellbeing of their pets.
Whether a pet is going into a facility or being taken care of by a housesitter, this is where the importance of adequate pet care insurance cannot be underestimated, says Louise Beevers, founder and director of MediPet Dog and Cat Veterinary Insurance Brokers.
“Insurance means relieving the need for a carer to have to take tough decisions in the absence of the owner, especially if the owner is going to be difficult to reach,” stresses Beevers. “Care can continue as it would with the owner’s preferred veterinarian, in accordance with the owner’s wishes.”
MediPet introduced its revolutionary pet insurance cover to the market more than 14 years ago to help support families with costs they couldn’t otherwise afford. The company’s compassion and drive to look after South Africa’s pets with its diverse, complementary, holistic and ongoing chronic care support has driven the growth and development of its sustainable, simple cover.
“MediPet’s comprehensive Essential and Ultimate plans provide up to R50 000 a year for accidents, illnesses and emergencies, which includes holistic wellness benefits, such as physiotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture and even supplements,” continues Beevers. “Now with MediPet’s Lite plan it is never too late to insure your pets. This popular plan covers pre-existing conditions after just 30 days and with a chronic care add-on benefit, rehabilitation and physiotherapy needs can also be covered.
“MediPet is different in that we have an in-house veterinary team to oversee all claims at an individual level. This dedicated pet health expertise and care makes all the difference when it comes to genuine peace of mind that you can give your pet the best medical treatment they deserve.
“All common-breed, congenital and hereditary conditions are covered and by limiting waiting periods and exclusions and maximising benefits, we believe this has contributed to MediPet having a 4.99 rating on HelloPeter.”
Beevers says it takes just seconds to get a quote online and under two minutes to join this growing pet care family. All dogs and cats can now get the most genuine and transparent cover thanks to South Africa’s leading pet insurance broker.
— Produced by Flair Media