Pet Of The Month June – Sammy

Pet Of The Month June – Sammy

Our winner this month is the lovely 3½ year old, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Sammy.

Sammy has been coming to Castle Vets for socialisation and habituation visits because he was absolutely terrified of visiting the practice and was so nervous that the vets could not examine him properly. Sammy’s dedicated owner has been working with veterinary nurse Faye, to help Sammy feel much more comfortable during his visits. Faye and Sammy’s owner have been using treats and positive reinforcement training techniques on Sammy in various parts of the practice.

Sammy has come such a long way in a short time and has finally started to trust the team at Castle Vets – we even vaccinated him last week, which is something that had been put off for a while because Sammy was just too nervous!

If you have a dog who is nervous about coming to the vets, please do get in touch with us. We can help you to work with your dog and make their veterinary visits much less stressful for them and you.


Heatstroke in dogs


Summer is here (so they say) and the weather is definitely starting to warm up (hooray!). Most of us will be outside in the hot weather, soaking up the sun or enjoying walks and trips with the family and our dogs. However, the heat can pose serious risks to your dog’s health if precautions are not taken to keep them cool. Heat stroke is a serious and life threatening condition that can affect dogs of any age, breed and fitness level. Fortunately, heatstroke is usually preventable if you take precautions in the warm weather.

How dogs get heatstroke

The normal body temperature of a dog is approximately 38.5ºC. (101.3ºF)

In warm weather dogs get rid of excess heat by panting, which exchanges the warmer air in the body for the cooler air from the environment. (Dogs don’t sweat like humans and although they can release some moisture through the pads in their feet and their nose, it is not enough to cool them down). When the environmental temperature reaches 29ºC or higher it becomes more and more difficult for the dog to cool down. Exercising during hot weather, even just a short walk, can increase panting and they will start to overheat. Once a dog’s temperature rises above 41ºC heatstroke is the result and damage to the body’s cellular system, nervous system and organs such as the brain, heart and liver may become irreversible .

Common causes of heatstroke

  • Being left in a vehicle on a warm day– Even if the day is overcast or you park in the shade, it can take as little as 10 minutes for the temperature in a vehicle to reach 39ºC, in 30 to 60 minutes it can reach 47ºC!
  • Being left in a conservatory or caravan (this will have the same effect as being left in a vehicle)
  • Being confined to an area with no shade and/or water in hot weather
  • Excessive exercise in hot weather
  • Overweight and short nosed dog breeds are more susceptible to heatstroke because they cannot cool down as effectively.

Heat Stroke Temperature Chart Castle Vets

Common Signs Of Heatstroke

  • Rapid or frantic panting
  • Panting with the tongue as extended as possible
  • Excessive thirst
  • Anxious behaviour
  • Rapid heart/pulse rate
  • Thick saliva
  • Very red (dark) gums
  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
Normal panting vs heatstroke

The dog on the left is panting normally and is nice and relaxed. The dog on the right is becoming too warm; his mouth is wide, his tongue is extended and he is starting to salivate. His eyes and face are a little pinched and his ears are flat. In a dog with heat stroke these features would be much more exaggerated, but hopefully this picture will give you a good idea of what to look out for.

What you can do to prevent heatstroke

  • NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day. Temperatures can soar in just a few minutes (after 5 minutes of the air conditioning being turned off, the inside temperature of the car will match the environmental temperature and start getting warmer). Open windows, parking in the shade or using sun shields will not keep your car cool enough. (plus your dog could be stolen!)
  • If you have to take your dog on a car journey, make sure to keep them cool and have plenty of fresh water available at all times.
  • Don’t take your dog out in the middle of the day when it is hottest, try to exercise your dog early morning and late evening when it is cooler.
  • Don’t allow your dog to over exert itself in the warm weather and try to keep energetic activities to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day.
  • If your dog likes to lie out in the garden, make sure you provide shade, keep the water bowl full and supervise at all times so you can see if they are getting to hot.
  • Regular grooming to remove excessive hair and clipping of longer coated breeds will help keep them cool.
  • If your dog enjoys water you could play with the sprinkler, hose , or even fill the paddling pool to keep him or her cool. For those that aren’t keen on water you could soak a bath towel in cold water and put this on the ground for them to lie on.
  • Take water and a bowl with you for your dog if you are going to be out for longer than 30 minutes in hot weather.
  • Keep a very close eye on your dog if it is a short nosed breed (Boxer, Pug, Shih Tzu, Bulldog etc), overweight or suffers with a heart condition as these dogs are more likely to overheat in warm weather.
  • Keep your dog cool

What to do if your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke

  1. Move him or her to a cool area (preferably with air conditioning or a fan to cool them off)heat-stroke
  2. Assess your dog’s condition:

Can he/she stand? Is he/she panting normally?
If yes, keep inside and offer water little and often and call the veterinary practice for advice.

If your dog is showing any of the following signs

  • panting excessively?300_651942
  • Staggering/collapsing when trying to move?
  • Have dark red gums?
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea?
  • Have a rapid heart/pulse rate?
  • Unable to stand up?
  • Disorientated or out of sorts?
  • Unresponsive to voice, touch or sight?
  • Having convulsions?
  • Completely collapsed or unconscious?

Call the vet immediately and get your dog to the veterinary practice as quickly as possible. You can begin the cooling process by soaking his/her body with cool (not cold) water. Wet towels that have been soaked in water are great for this.

If you are concerned that your dog may have heatstroke and want advice please contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488 or Vets Now on 0118 959 4007 if it is an emergency outside our normal working hours.

rspca dogs in cars

Why Regular Worming Is Important

Parasites are not something we really like to think about, but as responsible owners we need to safeguard our pets, and our families against them. A heavy burden of worms can cause suffering and illness in our pets, so it is very important that we prevent this. Although it is rare, some types of worms also pose a risk to human health if the eggs or larvae are ingested. .

There are two main types of worms affecting dogs and cats 


Dipylidium Caninum (the flea tapeworm)

  • These are long, flat worms with segmented bodies that attach to the wall of the small intestine and absorb nutrients as they flow past.
  • Once tapeworms mature, they shed their segments which pass out in the faeces and look like tiny, mobile, grains of rice.
  • The segments dry up in the environment and then break open to release tiny tapeworm eggs.
  • The eggs are then eaten by flea larvae in the environment and and they continue part of their lifecycle in this host animal.
  • If a dog or cat accidentally swallows a flea when grooming it will become infected with tapeworms again.
dipylidium Caninum Lifecycle

It is very important to regularly treat your pet for fleas to help prevent tapeworm infestation.

Taenia species

  • These tapeworms need intermediate hosts such as  rabbits, rodents and other animals that may be prey for our dogs and cats.
  • The prey species may ingest the tapeworm eggs from the environment and the tapeworm larvae then starts to develop inside its immediate host.
  • Once the dog or cat has ingested it’s prey, the tapeworm latches on to the wall of the intestine and continues it’s life cycle in much the same way as the flea tapeworm.


Toxocara Cati & Toxocara Canis

  • These worms generally look a lot like small noodles or spaghetti strands and live in the intestine
  • Adult roundworms mature, mate and then shed lots of tiny eggs which pass out in the faeces.
  • The eggs have a very tough shell and can remain in the environment for a long time.
  • Animals ingest the eggs through normal grooming or eating and infected host animal.
  • Roundworms can also be passed from mother to puppies or kittens during pregnancy or while nursing.
  • When the eggs reach the animals intestines they hatch and the juvenile worm then burrows out of the intestines.
  • If the host is not a dog or a cat then the worm encysts (or encloses) itself into other body tissues and waits until the host is eaten by a dog or a cat.
  • If the host is a dog or a cat, that has either ingested the worm eggs or has ingested a host animal, the juvenile worms migrate through the body until they reach the lungs; here they are coughed up and then swallowed so that they end up in the intestine again.
  • The worms mature in the intestines and eventually produce eggs which are passed out in the dog or cat faeces to begin the life cycle again.

Picture from CDC Website

Toxascaris Leonina

  • These Roundworms do not migrate around the body in the same way as the Toxocara species do. The second stage larvae mature in the intestine over a period of  2 to 3 months before they start producing eggs again.


  • Lungworms live in the pulmonary arteries and an infestation can be fatal
  • They are transmitted to dogs and cats that eat infected slugs, snails and frogs
  • For more information on Lungworm please see the links below

Microscopic views of worms (Courtesy of Novartis)

Other less common worm types 


  • These worms mainly affect dogs in the UK and rarely cats.
  • In addition to living in the animal’s small intestine, the hookworm larvae can penetrate skin (usually the feet) and cause infection.
  • Hookworms are thought to infect up to 68% of the fox population.


  • These worms live in the dog’s large intestine. (they don’t affect cats)
  • Dog’s become infected by ingesting eggs in the environment that have been passed in faeces of infected dogs.


  • These worms are not found in the UK, but they do pose a big risk for animals travelling abroad from the UK.
  • They are transmitted by mosquitoes and live in the pulmonary arteries and heart of infected dogs and cats.

Signs that your pet may have worms

  • Small white segments (roughly the size of a grain of rice) may be seen around your pet’s bottom area or in the faecesWorms
  • Your pet may cough up / vomit Roundworms if he or she has a heavy infestation
  • Itchy bottoms may cause them to ‘Scoot’ along the ground
  • You may see worms in your pets poo
  • Increased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of coat condition
  • Pot belly – usually only seen in puppies or kittens
  • Fleas

You may not realise you pet has worms at all because not all pets show these signs. Remember, prevention is easier than cure.

The risk to humans

Toxocariasis is thankfully rare in the UK but can happen when Roundworm larvae are ingested by a human. Usually the larvae will just die off in the human digestive tract, but in some cases the larvae survive and can migrate and encyst in organs or they reach the eye and cause blindness. Children are at a much higher risk of infection as they are often close to pets and play in outdoor areas where parasites may have been deposited.

Kids and pets

Keep your pet and the environment worm free

  • Use a veterinary recommended wormer. Prescription worming products are usually more effective than over the counter products. You should worm your pet at least 4 times a year, but more frequently if you pet hunts, likes to eat dead animals,  or likes to eat poo. Be very careful about using ‘natural/herbal worming products’ as these products work by removing the worms from the animals digestive system but not necessarily killing the worms, meaning any eggs that are passed are still viable and will infect the next host.  (It is worth noting that commonly named ‘natural’ worming products such as Oregon Grape, Black Walnut, Wormwood, Garlic and Onions can all be highly toxic to pets!)
  • Use a veterinary recommended flea treatment. Prescription flea treatments are usually more effective than over the counter products. Spot on treatments and tablets are usually given monthly and some veterinary recommended flea collars last for up to 8 months . Make sure you use a house-hold spray yearly to kill any flea eggs or larvae in the home environment.
  • Scoop the poop;  This is important both on walks and in your on garden – it is also against the law to leave  your dog’s faeces in public places. Cat litter trays/toileting areas should be scooped out daily and properly cleaned at least once a week.
  • Good personal hygiene and making sure children wash their hands, especially after stroking pets and playing outside.  Kissing your pet or letting him or her lick your face will put you more at risk, especially if you are immunocompromised.
  • Speak to your veterinary nurse. He or she can advise you on the safest and most effective parasite treatments for your pet as well as how often you need to give them.

Useful Links 

For more information on the Flea lifecycle

For more information on Lungworm

Novartis Worming information – Worm Patrol

Bayer Animal Health parasite information – Its A Jungle Out There



Fleas are small, blood-sucking, insects that infest our pets and feed on their blood. They can be a real nuisance and can make your pet’s life miserable; causing symptoms ranging from minor irritation and scratching to hair loss and severe allergic reactions in our pets. This of course is made even worse if they start biting the humans in the household as well.

Fleas can be a huge problem for pet owners and once they are established in the home they can be quite difficult to get rid of, because of their complex life cycle. The adult fleas we see on our pets are only 5% of the problem and  95% of the flea life-cycle actually takes place in the carpets, floorboards and pet bedding in your home.

There are over 2000 species of fleas in the world, but thankfully only the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) are the main problems for our pets in the UK. We do however, tend to see more of the cat flea because despite the name, it is happy to infest dogs, ferrets and rabbits as well as cats.

A: Cat Flea     B: Dog Flea

A: Cat Flea B: Dog Flea

The Flea Life Cycle

  • The adult fleas live on and feed off the host animal – usually dogs and cats but we starting to see more rabbits and ferrets affected too.
  • The female flea begins laying eggs within 36-48 hours of her first blood meal. She can lay around 20 eggs per day and up to 200 eggs in her lifetime of a few months. The flea eggs are not sticky so they drop off the animal into the home environment, such as carpets, bedding, floorboards and soil.
  • The flea larvae emerge from the eggs after 2-14 days (depending on the environmental conditions), and begin to feed off adult flea faeces and other organic debris found in the home. Flea larvae have 3 stages of growth and depending on the amount of food present and environmental conditions this stage lasts around 7-14 days (longer in some cases).
  • The larvae spin a silk cocoon and pupate; whilst in the cocoon the flea is at is most resilient and is resistant to insecticides.
  • The adult flea can emerge from its cocoon as early as 3-5 days or it can stay in the cocoon for up to a year, just waiting for the right conditions. Warm temperatures, vibrations and carbon dioxide emitted from passing pets and people will trigger them to hatch. Once hatched, they use their well developed back legs to get around and jump onto passing animals.

The entire life cycle of the flea can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 12 months (sometimes longer), which is why it is important to observe and treat your pets for fleas all year round.

Problems caused by fleas

  • Scratching and biting. Fleas are irritating and cause most animals to scratch as they run through their coats (I bet you are feeling itchy right now, just reading this!)
  • Hair loss. Caused by scratching or over grooming
  • Skin infections. Caused by scratching or self trauma (biting)
  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Some animals are hypersensitive to flea saliva and suffer an allergic reaction when bitten. It can take only one flea bite to cause problems for these animals.
  • Anaemia. Fleas feed on blood and a heavy infestation can have a big impact on young, elderly or ill animals
  • Tapeworms. Flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs. When pet’s groom themselves they can ingest infected fleas and become host to this parasite. If your pet has fleas you should also make sure your pet is treated for worms
  • Myxomatosis. This is a serious disease in rabbits which can be spread by fleas.
  • Fleas biting people. Although humans cannot be permanent hosts for cat and dog fleas, it will not stop them biting us if the opportunity presents itself.
flea problems

Problems include scratching, hair loss, infection and tapeworms

How to identify fleas on your pet

  • Adult fleas are only a 1.5-3mm in length and can be tricky to spot if there are only a couple causing problems on your pet. Gently part the hair of your pet’s coat to look for fleas.
  • The best way to tell if your pet has fleas is by checking for flea dirt (flea poop). Wipe a damp piece of cotton wool through your pet’s coat, going against the direction of the hair. This will hopefully pick up some flea dirt if it is present. Because flea dirt consists mostly of blood, once it is transferred onto the moist cotton wool, it dissolves and turns a lighter shade of red.
  • Alternatively use a flea or fine toothed comb to brush through your pet’s coat and then transfer the brushings onto a piece of damp kitchen paper.

If there are only a few adult fleas present you may not find any evidence of flea dirt in your pet’s coat.

spotting-fleas copy

Preventing fleas is easier than a curing an established flea infestation

The degree to which you need to control fleas will vary from pet to pet. You might think that a pet kept entirely indoors would be at no risk of catching fleas. But don’t forget that it only takes a visit from one untreated animal, or a flea or flea egg hitching a lift with you, to trigger an infestation in your home, so even housebound pets may require flea control. Pets that routinely go outdoors will likely come into contact with fleas from time to time, and require regular treatment.

        1. Use a prescription flea product regularly on your pet. 

  • Most flea treatments should be given every 4-6 weeks, depending on the type.
  • There are many different flea products available for your pet including spot-on liquids, tablets, injections and collars. Some products will kill fleas as they jump onto your pet, some after the fleas feed on your pet and others don’t actually kill the adult flea but act like contraceptives to prevent flea eggs from developing. Speak to a veterinary nurse who can advise you on which type of product will work best for your pet.
  • Remember that the products that your veterinary practice can prescribe for your pet can be much more effective than the products you can buy over the counter in a pet shop, super market or online.
  • Your pet should be weighed regularly to ensure the correct dose of treatment is being given.
  • Flea treatments are also available for rabbits and ferrets, so please ask at your veterinary practice for advice on suitable products for these smaller pets.
  • Always make sure the flea product is suitable for your pet i.e. it is for the species and weight of your pet. Read the data sheet carefully as not all products are suitable for all species of animal.
  • NEVER use a flea product containing Permethrin on a cat 

        2. Use a veterinary recommended household flea spray.

  • This will prevent the flea eggs from developing in the home environment.
  • Some of these sprays will provide protection for up to a year.
  • Don’t forget to spray the car if you have one.
  • Household flea spray can be highly toxic to birds and fish, so make sure bird cages are removed and fish tanks are covered before you spray the room they are kept in.
  • Never use it on your animals!

NEVER use a dog flea product containing Permethrin on a cat. Dog flea products are highly toxic to cats and can cause neurological damage, seizures and even death

Kill the flea not the cat

If you would like any more information or advice regarding fleas or flea products please contact us on 01189 574488

Pet Allergies

Just like humans, our pets can suffer from allergies to things such as foods, mites and pollens, with the allergens entering the body through the skin or when your pet eats or breaths them in.

Pet allergies are one of the more common problems that we see in practice with symptoms ranging from scratching and itchiness to hotspots, hair loss, infections and open sores. While allergies are more common in dogs, we do see quite a few cats with the problem as well.

Allergies can manifest themselves in many ways in our pets and generally cause them to scratch, rub, lick or nibble at the affected area. Some of the more common signs that a pet may have an allergy are;

  • Licking or nibbling at certain areas
  • Bottom scooting
  • Reddened, inflamed and sore skin, ears flaps, ear canals and gums
  • Rashes and lesions or hotspots
  • Wet Eczema
  • Crusts on the skin or in the ears
  • Excess of ear wax
  • Discharge from the eyes and/or ears
  • Red and sore eyes and conjunctiva
  • Eye watering and/or gunky discharge
  • General itchiness – Scratching or rubbing at or near affected area
  • Hair loss or thinning patches
  • Dull, dry or brittle coat
  • Yeasty or odd smell from the coat, ears or skin
  • Diarrhoea (food allergy)
  • Vomiting (food allergy)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating (food allergy)
  • Respiratory problems (usually cats)
  • Repeated Anal Gland problems or infections
  • Behavioural changes – often due to being uncomfortable and itchy

Signs Of Allergies2 A pet with allergies is often in discomfort and pain, so if you see any of these symptoms you should make an appointment with your veterinary practice.

How Pets Develop Allergies

Allergies are an overreaction of the body’s immune system which normally protects the body from viruses and bacteria by producing antibodies to fight them. During an allergic reaction, the immune system starts fighting the invading substances that are usually harmless, such as dust mites or pollen, because it has mistaken them for substances/allergens that are trying to attack the body. The first time the body encounters an allergen, the cells create an antibody specific to that allergen which attaches to the surface of the cells. The next time the body is exposed to this allergen, the cells activate their defences and release histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are what trigger the symptoms associated with allergies.

Allergies often start to develop when the pet is between one to three years of age, but sometimes they develop when the pet is older. For the majority of cases the pet will have been exposed to the allergen for some time before an actual allergy is developed (with the exception of something like an insect bite, which may develop after only a few bites), the pet’s immune system then starts to react to the allergy. It is also possible for a pet to have allergies to many different things, so over the years the symptoms may get worse. Although any breed, age or sex of dog or cat can develop an allergy, some allergies may also be passed on through generations making some breeds more likely to have an allergy for example West Highland Terriers, Golden Retrievers and Bulldogs.

Types of Allergies

Allergies, Atopy or Atopic Dermatitis are the broad terms for an allergic reaction to something in the environment. Our pets can be allergic to a variety of things in the environment such as Pollen from trees, weeds, flowers and grasses or Moulds and Fungi (both indoors and outdoors), food, parasites, yeasts, bacteria and contact with substances or materials.

Weed, Tree and Mould Allergies

Many pets develop allergies to the pollen of certain trees, weeds and grasses as well as spores from moulds and fungi. These can be very difficult (if not impossible) to avoid contact with and cause allergy flare ups at certain times of the year.

Food Allergies

It can take a great deal of detective work to work out exactly which ingredient in a pet’s diet is the cause of the allergy, for example it could be the meat or it could be a cereal ingredient, or even one of the additives used to preserve the food. Symptoms of food allergies can include tummy upsets as well as general itchiness, skin and ear problems and also behaviour problems. They should not be confused with food intolerances, which only affect the gastrointestinal system (vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss) and not the skin.

Flea and Mite Allergies

These are very common and can be very uncomfortable for pets.

      • Fleas: In some animals one bite from a flea can leave them itchy and sore for 2-3 weeks and they may get a secondary infection because of all the scratching, nibbling and licking they are doing. For animals allergic to flea saliva (Flea Allergic Dermatitis) it is vitally important that flea treatments are kept up to date both on the pet and in the home.
      • House Dust Mites: These tiny mites live in the home in carpets, bedding, mattresses, upholstery and even cloth toys. They feed on human skin scales, bacteria and fungi in the environment. They are a common cause of allergies in people as well as pets. Frequent vacuuming and washing of the pets bedding and near environment can help keep these allergies under control, but pets with Dust Mite allergies often need immunotherapy vaccines to help them.
      • Storage Mites: These microscopic mites are attracted to dry foods, grains and cereals. The storage mite’s body and its faeces can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs and cats. These can be difficult to avoid and it is sometimes necessary to change an allergic pet to a wet food instead of a dry one. Pets with Storage Mite allergies often need immunotherapy vaccines to help them.

Contact allergies

These are usually caused by contact with certain carpet materials, cleaners, plastics or rubber. They often show as red itchy bumps or blisters on areas of skin that are not covered with a good layer of hair such as the tummy, feet, or muzzle.

Secondary Conditions

Pets with allergies will often have what we term secondary skin problems, and these are usually related to a bacterial or yeast infection. The allergy causes the initial skin irritation and the cycle of scratching and licking at the skin then leads to a secondary infection. Treatment given for these secondary infections can often seem initially to ‘cure’ the problem, but the underlying allergic cause remains and so the problem will reoccur. This is why we strongly recommend a full investigation if a pet has recurring problems so that we can fully understand the problem and limit its return.

Diagnosing Allergies

Allergies are diagnosed using a variety of methods, depending on the suspected cause of the allergy. Your pet will initially have a thorough examination which may include blood tests in order to rule out any illnesses and diseases that may be causing symptoms; hormonal disease such as Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease and bacterial skin infections can all affect the skin and coat. An allergy work up may include some, or all of the following;
Dermatology Consultation – with an aim to find out your pet’s daily routine and exactly what your pet eats, where you take them for walks, and his or her sleeping and resting areas in the home etc. to see if we can identify possible allergic causes.

      • Skin scrapes and hair plucks – These can be examined under a microscope, either in practice or at an external laboratory and can show us whether the pet has a bacterial or fungal infection or mite infestation. Ruling these causes out can go a long way to confirming an allergy.
      • Allergy Blood tests – these are sent to a laboratory where they can be examined and exposed to various allergens such as pollens, mites and fleas. A report is then sent back to the vet telling them which of these the pet is allergic too. (Sadly we cannot use this for food allergies)
      • Food Exclusion Trials – The only way that a food allergy or intolerance can be properly diagnosed is with a strict food elimination trial for 3 – 10 weeks (depending on the pet’s symptoms) and then the re introduction of the original diet. The choice of which diet to use for elimination trial is very important and t has to contain ingredients that the pet has never eaten before. It is often not as simple as changing from a chicken based pet food to a fish based one.

 Treatment of Allergies

Once an allergy has been diagnosed and the cause has been found, treatment can be recommended; we cannot cure an allergy, but we can help make the body less responsive to an allergen and sometimes it may even be possible to prevent the pet from coming into contact with the allergen at all. Allergy treatment may include.

Removal and/or Avoidance Techniques

Some allergens can be removed completely if we know the allergen in question; cleaning products can be changed and allergic materials can be removed or avoided. In some cases such as flea, mite or mould allergies we may not be able to completely remove the source but there are several avoidance techniques that can be employed such as

      • Keep pets out of room for several hours during and after vacuuming
      • Use a plastic cover over pet’s bed
      • Wash bedding in very hot water
      • Avoid letting pets sleep on furniture
      • Avoid or regularly wash cloth toys
      • Keep pets in uncarpeted rooms
      • Run an air conditioner during hot weather
      • Keep pets indoors when the lawn is mowed
      • Avoid dusty low quality pet foods or switch to a wet food
      • Use of airtight containers for food that are cleaned thoroughly between batches
      • Use of specific food bowls that are cleaned thoroughly between uses
      • Use dehumidifiers
      • Avoid large numbers of houseplants
      • Rinse the pet off after walks in high grass and weeds during times of high pollen
      • Ensure that parasite control both on the pet and in the home is kept up to date

Topical Treatments

These usually offer immediate and short term relief for the pet and may be in the form of creams, ointments, drops, lotions or shampoos that may be used to treat specific areas such as skin lesions, ears or eyes.

Prescription Medications

These are usually in the form of tablets or injections

      • Corticosteroids – These are very effective at relieving severe itching and inflammation. They are usually given daily for a set period and then the dose will reduced. For longer term treatment the pet will have the dose reduce to the minimum therapeutic level. Some pets experience side effects when on steroids (as with any drugs) such as increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite and diarrhoea. Very long term steroid medication is usually avoided because of the potential of more serious side effects.
      • Cyclosporine – This medication specifically targets the immune cells involved in the allergic response and blocks the release of inflammatory molecules such as histamines which cause the allergic symptoms.
        Antihistamines – These are widely used in both humans and animals to provide allergy relief. They have been shown to be effective in controlling allergies in up to 30% of dogs and 70% of cats and are especially effective when used with omega 3 fatty acids and avoidance therapies. However, just like in people, every animal will respond differently to each of the different antihistamines. So the vet may have to try a few types before an effective one is found. Antihistamines should only ever be given to pets under veterinary guidance as some have severe side effects including
      • Sedation
      • Hyperactivity
      • Constipation
      • Decreased appetite.

Immunotherapy Injections

Immunotherapy is the treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response using the causal agent. An Immunotherapy Vaccine is given to the pet in the form of an injection and will stimulate the body’s immune system (in a similar way to vaccinations against disease in people and animals). Each Immunotherapy vaccine is designed specifically for an individual pet and contains small doses of the allergens that the pet is allergic to. The dose of the vaccine increases in the amounts and concentrations of the allergen each time it is given, which will eventually decrease the body’s sensitivity to the allergen, meaning that the pet will develop fewer and less severe symptoms when they are exposed to the allergen in the future.

Do not confuse immunotherapy with homeopathy – immunotherapy vaccines are precisely made up by the veterinary laboratory for each individual pet and contain exactly the substance(s) that causes the allergy in your pet at the correct dosages. They work by stimulating a response in the animal’s immune system.


Acupuncture is a therapeutic process that should in which a veterinary practitioner inserts fine needles into certain points on the pet’s body to help control pain and ailments. Veterinary acupuncture has been shown to help ease the symptoms of inflammatory conditions in some dogs and cats. This treatment should only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon – At Castle Vets this is Christel Van Veen and you can find out more by visiting our website.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids have been proven to have a therapeutic benefit in the treatment of canine atopic dermatitis and other inflammatory conditions. In some animals they can help reduce the itchiness and inflammation in the skin because of their natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative agents. You should always seek veterinary advice regarding dosages before you start to supplement your pet’s diet though.


Occasionally a pet suffering with allergies may need surgical treatment to help alleviate the symptoms. This is usually ear canal surgery carried out on dogs with repeatedly swollen and infected ears due to their allergies.


The central idea behind homeopathic remedies is “like cures like” – a substance that causes certain symptoms can also help to remove those symptoms. A second central principle is based around a process of dilution and shaking, called succession – Homeopathic practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms. Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left. Another problem with homeopathic remedies is that they are given orally and because of this most of the ingredients never make it past the acid in the stomach and what little does get through is too diluted to have any effect.

A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”

However, if you feel that homeopathic remedies can be used to help your pet then no one will mind you using them – but do let your vet know which remedies you are using.

 Dermatology Clinics At Castle Vets_MG_1277

John Redbond RVN has a special interest in allergies and skin problems in pets and runs the Pet Dermatology Clinic at Castle Vets. John is available to discuss and investigate allergies in your pets and runs his clinic on a Tuesday morning.

If you would like advice or to make an appointment, contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488