Are you a dog lover? Poodles, The Schnauzer, The Kerry Blue Terrier, Powder puff Chinese Crested, The Havanese, Coton de Tulear, Maltese, Labradoodle, Bishon Frise, Greyhound, Maltese, Giant Schoodle, Puppies

Identifiying cats allergies

Q: My cat is allergic to everything: fleas, food, pollen, etc. She has scratched and bitten all the fur off her belly and chews at her legs. How can we manage her condition and help her stay comfortable?

A: That’s a triple-whammy. We often see flea-bite allergies in cats, and environmental allergies aren’t unusual either. Food allergies are less common, but they definitely occur. Signs for all three can be similar: scratching, biting, rubbing and grooming excessively. Other signs include sneezing, watery eyes and ear infections. All of those things add up to one seriously uncomfortable cat.

Treatment is individualized to each cat because they all have different signs. Beyond corticosteroids, your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines, cyclosporine and allergy shots. All of these may play a role in helping to reduce your cat’s intense itching.

Used with antihistamines, essential fatty acid supplements may contribute to itch relief, too, according to some veterinary dermatologists. In dogs, applying EFAs topically has been found to help improve what’s known as barrier function, the skin’s ability to repel pathogens that can aggravate atopic dermatitis. We don’t know if that works in cats, but it’s something to ask your veterinarian about.

It can be challenging and time-consuming to determine exactly what your cat is allergic to so you can get her on a program to keep symptoms under control. It may be necessary to restrict her diet and then gradually add back specific ingredients to figure out which ones are setting off her allergies. Be prepared for the process to take as long as several months. If possible, enlist the services of a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, who can perform allergy testing and recommend other environmental or dietary changes, as well as appropriate medication. Your veterinarian may be able to refer you to someone locally, or you can find one through the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. — Dr. Marty Becker


• If your dog is fearful of loud noises, such as thunder, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, gunshots or traffic sounds, you may be giving him a medication called Sileo (dexmedetomidine), which is FDA-approved to treat noise aversion. The oromucosal gel is administered to the dog’s gums with a special multidose syringe. The FDA warns that dogs can receive too much of the drug if the syringe isn’t set up properly. To prevent accidental overdoses, be sure you understand how to determine the appropriate dose based on your dog’s weight, lock the syringe in place and deliver the drug so the dog doesn’t swallow it. No deaths have been reported, but possible effects of an overdose include sedation, lethargy, sleepiness, slow heart rate, shallow or slow breathing, difficulty breathing, impaired balance, low blood pressure, muscle tremors and loss of consciousness.

• Love the look of a longhaired cat with a pointed coat? The Birman may be the breed for you. The sweet social butterflies love following their humans around the house and settling into a lap whenever possible. Their silky coats are easy to groom and don’t have an undercoat to form mats and tangles, though they still need daily combing to remove loose hair and prevent hairballs.

• A new system being tested at the port in Mombasa, Kenya, may allow specially trained dogs to search large shipping containers for contraband ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products using only a small air sample. Called Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction, the system will draw air from specific containers and pass it through filters that are then presented to the dogs, trained to sit if they scent anything illicit. The technique could allow the dogs to check many more containers daily, reducing trade of illegal wildlife items.

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and journalist Kim Campbell Thornton of Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Send pet questions to askpetconnection@gmail.