Allergies, fleas, ticks and heartworm - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-15-2012, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Allergies, fleas, ticks and heartworm

After a recent visit with an Allergy and Dermatology Vet specialist in Austin, TX, I thought I'd share some information I received. Beginning in March, Havanna had a lot of issues with scratching and gnawing. She lost a great deal of hair and was miserable, and after four visits to the local vet, he decided she needed to be referred to a specialist. This is the information that I learned from the specialist and applies in general to most dogs:

The three most common allergies in dogs are food, inhalant (atopy) and flea. Food allergies can only be ruled out by a strict 8-10 week food trial with a prescription hypoallergenic food. The blood tests that are being offered to determine food allergies are not considered accurate or acceptable by specialists because they have a high percentage of false positives. Dogs that are or become allergic to food are prone to ear infections. They also tend to "scoot on their behinds" a lot.

Intradermal skin testing is the preferred test to diagnosis inhalant and flea allergies. This is the same test they do on humans. Dogs that are allergic to fleas tend to scratch and gnaw on their back, around their tails. Inhalant allergies, as with humans, tend to be seasonal with whatever grass, tree, pollen, etc they are hypersensitive to.

Havanna was not exhibiting any of the signs of a food allergy, but was exhibiting signs of inhalant and flea allergies. We decided to do the skin testing on her (NOT cheap!). Amongst a few other things, she was found to be highly allergic to fleas. Although she had no signs of fleas on her, the specialist advised us that one flea on a sensitive dog could cause a lot of problems. This began a bit of a conversation about fleas and ticks.

We had been giving the girls Revolution, but after hearing from at least four different vets that this was ineffective and not recommended (they all were having dogs become heartworm positive, even though the owners were faithfully applying the Revolution), we tried K9 Advantix. Havanna lost hair in the areas we applied the solution, so our local vet had told us to not use it anymore and had recommended Trifexis (this is the same thing as Comfortis, but with extra protection). The specialist highly recommended Trifexis (she gives this to her dogs) and advised us to not use spot-on treatments like Revolution, K9 Advantix, etc. Independent studies have determined that the spot-on solutions lose their efficacy after less than three weeks (the active agents could only be found in dogs' hair follicles after three weeks, which was not giving them any protection). She stated that if you are giving spot-on treatment, you should apply it every 2-3 weeks for it to be most effective.

My concern with the Trifexis was that it did not cover ticks (labeled for fleas and heartworm). The specialist told me that she had contacted the manufacturers of Trifexis personally, as she was hoping they could make the pill more pallitable (says that it's beef flavored, but dogs don't seem to like it). They informed her that during their trial studies, they had determined that the Trifexis did help with tick control. However, since their trial was only approved for flea and heartworm, they could not label it as helping to control ticks (trials take atleast two years to complete, and the manufacturers didn't want to go back to include the ticks). The specialist stated that if your dog doesn't have lots of exposure to ticks, the Trifexis should protect him/her. If, however, you live or plan to travel in a high tick area, she recommended a Preventic collar.

For inhalant allergies, she recommended 1/4 tablet of Zyrtec. This has proven very helpful with Olivia, who sounds horribly congestion without it.

To the best of my memory (if I don't write it down, I forget....), this was the most important information she gave me. Hope someone finds something here useful.....

Michelle, Havanna & Olivia
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-15-2012, 09:34 PM
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I have two dogs with flea allergies here in the south they are common, they usually occur after an infestation, some dogs like lhasa's are prone to flea bite dermatitis. My Lhasa has some serious allergies that have caused him to end up being at the vet on IV steroids, we went to a dermatologist at UC Davis Vet school and had testing, for two years he had shots he did great, Frontline came along and that was great for flea control. Since moving to NC seven years ago we go had to go to a Dermatologist at NC State Vet School as he developed new allergies, we have a reg. Vet also. We did not do the testing a second time. The specialist felt it would be very stressful and not as effective a second time around. Instead we used benedryl during high allergy season and foot washes.

Misty was tested for food allergies with a new blood test to rule them out, although controversial some vet's will recomend trying the blood test. Misty was beginning her testing and tested postive for flea bite dermatitis, she was given a cortisone shot to help settle the itching from a flea bite (we never see them), she had a bad reaction to the shot and it was lucky, because she had interditigtal pyoderma it took a long time to treat it, in the wet weather we still have to use the special shampoo twice a week and she takes benedryl 2x a day. We were given the choice of the old fashioned way of allergy testing or a blood test as is used commonly in Europe. We ended up not needing to do anymore testing. Misty is on Confortis only because the shampoo strips the coat, she is on heartguard, the problem is we have to be careful of ticks, if that becomes a problem she will need to use a tick collar, althogh this is not Ideal it is effective and better then the potential consequences of a tick bite.

I use Frontline plus for the three other dogs, I was told it is a good choice as long as it remains effective and is put on in the correct way. In places like Arizona in the summer in certain areas Frontline is used twice a month for tick control (they have a certain tick).

I have now been dealing with a flea allergy for a long time, todays products have made a big difference. Our cat passed away last year as sad as it was, we have less stray fleas getting in to the house this year. I vacuum three times a day and use a flea comb after there last trip out at night. I hope you get it under control so your pups don't suffer. My saying is if there biting and itching is driving us nuts, imagine how it feels for them.

Robbie, Boo Boo, Yogi, and Misty's human.
Poohkey miss you, monkey.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-15-2012, 11:04 PM
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My vet just recommended Trifexis at their annual check-up. I had to start flea meds early (topical Advantage) because of the mild winter. Both my Hav and (indoor only) cat lost some hair where I applied it. He said if I had my Hav on Trifexis, I don't necessarily need to treat my cat because no flea trekked into the house will live long enough to lay eggs. So I cut down from Interceptor + Flea-Dog + Flea-Cat to just Trifexis-dog. I do like my vet.
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