If your pet has been showing signs of itchy discomfort lately, clouds of potent springtime pollen may be to blame. Just like people, cats and dogs can be allergic to common environmental substances including pollen, mold and dust mites—and they can also be allergic to ingredients in their diets and to fleas. According to the ASPCA, more than 20% of pets may suffer from some sort of allergy. Most cats and dogs who are going to develop allergies do so in their first years, although adult onset also occurs.
Common signs of allergies include recurrent ear or skin infections and scratching, licking, chewing/biting or face-wiping; the face, ears, armpits and paws are most often the targets of a pet’s distress.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, talk to your veterinarian, who can provide short-term relief by prescribing itch-control medication, and then help determine the source of the allergy or refer you to a specialist in veterinary dermatology.
The first step toward an allergy diagnosis will generally be a skin scraping to check for mites, yeast, and/or bacterial infections. Your vet might prescribe special shampoos or topical sprays and frequent bathing, which solves the problem for many pets.
If not, the next easiest thing to test for is food allergies, which will require you to put your pet on a strict hypoallergenic diet for several months (your vet will prescribe the food) to see if there is a change in his condition. No treats or animal-based chewies are allowed during this period!
The next option is blood testing. It’s a little pricey, but provides definitive confirmation of contact/inhalant allergies. If your pet tests positive for environmental allergies (mold, pollen, cat dander, etc.), your vet will analyze the results, along with your pet’s clinical signs and history, to devise a treatment plan. This may be as simple as changes around the house, or your pet may need drug therapy or allergy shots (immunotherapy).
To learn more about pet allergies and what you can do to make your pet more comfortable, please visit our Pet Care section for specific information about cats or dogs.
Are you looking to make a real difference in the lives of animals? We’re searching for public and private shelter leaders and volunteers to take their town to the next level by vastly increasing pet adoptions in their community. To sweeten the deal, we’re launching a friendly competition to inspire innovation and showcase successful, life-saving programs.
Officially launched on April 8, the ASPCA $100K Challenge will award more than $125,000 in prizes, including a grand prize grant of $100,000! To qualify for the grand prize competition, shelters need to save a minimum of 300 more cats, dogs, kittens and puppies from August through October 2010, compared with the same three-month period in 2009. Beyond that, the winner will be the shelter that saves the most additional animals from August through October 2010. The ASPCA will also grant $25,000 to the shelter that most inspires and engages its community to get involved in promoting pet adoptions and reuniting lost animals with their pet parents. (And yes, the same shelter can win both big prizes!)
“Unique from our other grants that fund specific programs, the ASPCA $100K Challenge is a competition to inspire creative solutions for increasing pet adoptions and improving return-to-owner rates,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “The Challenge will spark innovation and draw more community support to help shelters help animals.”
So hurry and register today or help us spread the word to your local animal welfare leaders! We’re accepting applications through June 30, but the Challenge is limited to 50 shelters. The official competition period is August 1 through October 31, and winners will be announced in early December 2010.
Under 25 and passionate about animal welfare? Apply for an Animal Action Grant, sponsored by the ASPCA and DoSomething.org! Six grants will be awarded to project proposals that have the potential to increase adoptions, decrease the euthanasia of shelter animals and reunite more people with lost pets.
Visit DoSomething.org’s animal welfare section to learn more about the specific actions proven to help improve the lives of homeless animals across the country. Then submit your application by April 30! Two $1,000 and four $500 grants will be awarded, and the winners will be announced in May. Special consideration will be given to ideas that promote innovative solutions for returning lost pets to their forever homes.
All grants are open to citizens of the U.S. and Canada who are under age 25. DoSomething.org completes the initial screening for eligibility, and then forwards the applications to an ASPCA jury, which makes the final selection. For more information about our Animal Action Grants, please visit DoSomething.org.
Spike, the 11-month-old English Bulldog whose brutal beating was caught on camera phone, is on the fast track to happily-ever-after. After multiple surgeries and an extended recuperation time, the ASPCA is thrilled to have placed Spike in a home with an experienced pet parent familiar with taking care of animals with special needs.
Due to the overwhelming attention his case received, Spike's new mom prefers to remain anonymous—but rest assured folks, she is overjoyed by the new addition to her family. "Spike is doing fantastic," says mom. "He's such a big mush and I'm completely smitten."
Apparently, Spike's new pup-brother Petey is, too. "The two of them hit it off right away," she declares. "Bosom buddies, they are always together and you can tell that their friendship has really helped Spike regain some of his confidence."
Aside from his spirits, little Spike's physical condition has improved as well. "Spike will probably always have difficulty seeing and walking," explains his new mom. "But that doesn't stop him from getting around—he's full of that great puppy energy!"
Spike's former owner, Maria Aguilar, is expected in court on April 12.
On March 16, under the authority and request of the SPCA Serving Erie County (NY) members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team were dispatched to assist in the sheltering management and care of 73 horses seized from what is believed to be the area's largest farm animal rescue ever. The animals were found living in deplorable and extremely unsanitary conditions on a farm in East Aurora, NY (about 20 miles southeast of Buffalo).
Jeff Eyre, the Northeast Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, is currently on scene with other ASPCA staff skilled in horse handling. The group has been instrumental in helping to feed, water and clean the animals. For the horses' extended care, the ASPCA will grant $10,000 to the SPCA Serving Erie County and has provided a livestock trailer for transport.
“Our goal is to help the SPCA Serving Erie County rehabilitate these horses, both physically and behaviorally,” says Jeff. “We are glad to be able to provide support to the SPCA and the Erie County community.”
The following is the first in a series of field reports from Jeff on the ground in Erie County.
Field Report #1
Attended an early morning briefing with team leaders to set up a swing shift for the day to day operations—this will cover the early morning feeding and medications. Our goal today is to finish barn and stall improvements, provide handling for a vet visit and move or separate the horses.
After the meeting, we provided food and water for the horses, improved the stalls and cleared an area for the intake of new supplies and equipment. Later, we unloaded two tractor trailers full of supplies. We also created a staff office and site command center for operations planning and evidence organization.
A special event…this afternoon we watched as ASPCAs Logistic Manager Joel Lopez handled a newborn horse, moving him from one stall to another—great job!
Field Report #2
We were briefed in-route to the shelter in order to make our 8:00 A.M. shift.
We completed the erection of a fence to secure the area around the barns and set up a rental to supplement the Gator, an all-terrain vehicle, for use around the barns. Oil was changed in the Gator.
Moved another young horse without incident.
Field Report #3
Jeff Eyre, the Northeast Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, is currently on the scene in Erie County, assisting with the sheltering management and care of 73 horses. The following is the first in a series of field reports from Jeff.
We now report directly to the shelter to start our shifts at 8:00 A.M.—briefing is now covered during lunch breaks for updates and new changes.
Repaired front of stalls in small barn and began lead walking and lunging some of the horses within the fenced area—hopefully tomorrow we can erect a round pen.
I am amazed….at any given time I can look at someone here and they are smiling. The amount of physical work required to care for a horse is intense. But the joy a horse gets in a clean stall—they sniff, snort and roll just because! It can only make you smile. I am very, very proud of our team. More tomorrow…
Field Report #4
Today was a full day of cleaning and improving the barn for the horses. We added another Gator vehicle with a power lift for cleaning and moving supplies.
Due to the rainy weather conditions, the area is full of water and mud—we have decided to keep all horses in.
Today we received three more horses from the case; there are now 69 horses on site, four are being held at the SPCA.