Johannesburg, 31 July20: COVID-19 has put the global spotlight on human health, but amidst the crisis, global animal health company, Zoetis, has remained committed to advancing animal healthcare and has just launched a life-changing new treatment for itching dogs in South Africa that enables effective and immediate relief.
Lynne Pickersgill, marketing manager, dermatology at Zoetis South Africa, says: “Itching is one of the most common problems in dogs and should be a key concern for pet owners as it can often indicate an underlying medical condition. Excessive scratching can be very debilitating and some animals can scratch until their skin is raw and then end up with secondary bacterial infections.”
Itching problems can also escalate, changing from moderately frequent episodes to prolonged spells and, finally, to never-ending itching even when playing, exercising or eating. This can severely compromise your pet’s quality of life and your own.
“It’s important to get to the underlying cause as soon as possible to help stop the irritating and painful itch and give your dog some much needed relief,” says Pickersgill.
What to look out for
Dog owners need to be on the lookout for not only excessive licking, chewing, biting or scratching but also rolling, rubbing or scooting. Other symptoms that should raise the alarm include hair loss, recurrent ear problems, body odour, gland problems, changes in the skin with sores or darkened coloring, redness and oily or scaly skin.
Causes of severe itching
Pickersgill says there are many causes. The easiest to eliminate and treat are parasites such as fleas (and flea allergy dermatitis an allergy caused by the saliva of the fleas) and mites – something that every pet owner should be preventing already.
But some dogs may have more serious complications such as allergic and atopic dermatitis. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to anything from pollen and grass to certain foods. Some dogs can even be dairy intolerant and can react badly to beef and chicken as well as highly processed dry dog foods.
How does one treat excessive itching?
Common at-home remedies such as oatmeal baths, lotions or over-the-counter medicines usually offer only temporary relief. Even topical treatments (such as shampoos, creams and rinses) and antihistamines have limited to no effect.
If the itch is caused by external parasites such as fleas and mites, the use of an effective anti-parasiticide like Simparica, is recommended.
“Your vet will be able to tell you if a medical condition is the underlying cause and whether a prescription medicine is required,” says Pickersgill.
Up until now, most cases of itchiness have been treated with cortisone which can have several unpleasant side effects.
“Dogs can become very thirsty and urinate a lot. They get hungry and put on weight. There are often behavioral changes too and some animals can become quite aggressive, moody and even snappy which is not good, especially for a family pet. Cortisone can affect almost every organ in their bodies in a negative way,” says Pickersgill.
However, the new treatment from Zoetis for itching dogs enables effective and immediate relief without unpleasant side effects and can pave the way for dog owners and vets to uncover the root cause of all the discomfort.
Describing the new treatment, which is a first in South Africa, as “a game changer in the itch market”, Pickersgill says that this novel product not only provides comfort within as little as four hours, but also does not interfere with any diagnostic workup.
“It literally blocks the signal that tells your dog to scratch. Generally, itchy dogs become caught in a vicious cycle – they scratch to such an extent that they cause inflammation, damaging their skin which opens it up to pathogens causing secondary bacterial infections often making the itching worse. The more scratching, the more inflammation, the more irritated the skin becomes and the more your dog scratches. You need to break that cycle,” says Pickersgill.
A process of elimination
This innovative treatment also enables vets to move to the next level and conduct food trials if necessary, however, this is not so easy. “Your dog will be put on a hypoallergenic diet which is very strict and specialised and can be quite difficult to adhere to because the dog may not eat anything else in order to determine if the allergy is food related or not,” says Pickersgill.
Once parasites, infections and food have been eliminated as the cause of allergy, a diagnosis of atopy can be made – i.e your dog is more than likely suffering from an environmental allergy. These dogs are generally treated for the rest of their lives/chronically but in some cases, if you are lucky, seasonally.
It is important to remember that allergies are genetic and there is no cure, however, the condition can be managed with the help from your veterinarian and the correct medication.
A leading multi-national animal health company, Zoetis builds on more than 65 years of experience in animal health to research, develop, manufacture and commercialise medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products. Zoetis understands the deep connection between people and their pet and provides veterinarians with the resources needed to provide the highest quality of care and support, help improve the quality and extend the life of cats, dogs and horses and make it easier for owners to contribute towards the health and wellness of their companion animals. Zoetis produces vaccines, anti-infectives, parasiticides, dermatology products, animal health diagnostic and other pharmaceuticals.
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