Tag Archive: allergies


I feed Natural Balance Hypoallergenic food what is the difference between that and the Hill’s diet?

By: Dr. Tony Luchetti Dr Luchetti

Usually when your veterinarian recommends  feeding a hypoallergenic diet, it is because we suspect your pet may have a food allergy.  The key to diagnosing a food allergy is feeding your pet a novel protein and carbohydrate which your pet hasn’t been exposed to before.  This new diet must be fed for a minimum of 30-60 days before results are seen.  As you can imagine the key to doing a dietary trial is making sure the diet you are feeding doesn’t contain any trace amounts of other protein or carbohydrate sources.   The Hill’s diets are guaranteed to only contain 1 protein and 1 carbohydrate source, where other commercial diets very commonly have traces of other carbohydrate and/or protein sources.  Hill’s also has its Z/D diet which has a hydrolyzed protein.  A hydrolyzed protein is a conventional protein which is broken down into molecules so small, they don’t stimulate the immune system.   The advantage of using a hydrolyzed proteinhll-395_1z is you take away the guess work of picking a protein source you think the pet won’t react to.   For example, if you switch a dog to a venison and potato diet for 2 months and the dog is still itchy after the 2 months, you then wonder if the dog doesn’t have a food allergy, or you wonder if the dog is allergic to venison also.   The Z/D diet takes out this variable because the protein molecule doesn’t stimulate the immune system.

The other advantage of the Hill’s diet over some other commercial diets is their diets have been tested in clinical settings where other diets may not have been.  The way you can tell if a diet has been tested is to look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the diet.  Diets which have been tested will say under the AAFCO statement  that feeding tests have been done, wheres 5241511834_bee0b2faa4diets which haven’t been tested will say the diet has been formulated.

In conclusion diagnosing food allergies can be frustrating for both owners and veterinarians.  The key to diagnosing food allergies is trying to eliminate as many variables as possible.  The Hill’s diets help us achieve this.

Seasonal Allergies

Every Year Around the Same Time My Dog Gets Itchy.

By: Dr. Tony Luchetti Dr Luchetti

  Many pets, like people, can get seasonal allergies. These allergies usually occur in the warmer months when grasses, trees, and sagebrush are blooming. Some signs of seasonal allergies are: red/inflammed skin, scratching and even excessive paw licking.

Dealing with seasonal allergies can be a frustrating endeavor for the pet, the owner, and also the Bulldog-puppy-scratching_1019491631veterinarian.  There are multiple treatments for seasonal allergies, and as the old adage goes, when there are multiple ways to treat something, there isn’t a great way to treat it. Certain antihistamines can be used orally to try and decrease the itchiness.  However, unfortunately only 30% of pets respond to antihistamines. The nice thing about antihistamines are their side effects are minimal with drowsiness being the most common.

The most common treatment for seasonal allergies are corticosteroids. These medications are relatively inexpensive and highly effective. The major disadvantage to corticosteroids are their side effects. The side effects are directly proportional to the dose needed to control the allergies, and 106906243include: increased water consumption and urination, increased appetite, and increased panting.  Long term, high dosage treatment can cause ligament and muscle weakening, skin and liver changes.  When using corticosteroids we always try to use the lowest effective dose which controls the allergies in order to minimize these side effects.

Another treatment for seasonal allergies in dogs is hyposensitization therapy. With this therapy we try to find out what the dog is allergic to by either a blood test or by injecting different allergens under the skin in small amounts to see if they form a welt (this is done by a veterinary dermatologist).  Once we know what the dog is allergic to, a company formulates allergy injections to these allergens. We then teach the owner how to give these injections (in small amounts) at home in the hope of desensitizing the dog’s immune system to what they are allergic to. Unfortunately these injections don’t work all the time, and the testing and injections can be somewhat expensive. Approximately 25% of patients see no improvement, 50% see some improvement, and the remaining 25% can see complete improvement.

There are currently two additional medications which help to minimize the immune systems response to allergens.  These medications are Atopica and Apoquel.  Atopica is usually effective, but has the disadvantage of being expensive for larger dogs.  Apoquel has just recently come on the market and appears to be very effective and relatively inexpensive with minimal side effects.  We are hopeful that Apoquel will replace corticosteroids as the most common treatment for seasonal allergies.  The biggest hurdle to Apoquel currently, is it is very difficult to get ahold of.Dr. Luchetti

If you think your pet is having seasonal allergies, please give us a call and schedule an appointment with us, and we can help you determine which treatment is the best fit for your situation.

Acupuncture for Animals

Frequently Asked Questions

Kim Luikart, DVM, cVMA

Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist

Dr Luikart

 

 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body via the insertion and manipulation of very small, sterile needles into the superficial tissues of the body.  Each treatment is carefully tailored to your pet’s unique situation.  Treatment plans are based on a thorough medical history review, careful physical examination and assessment of musculoskeletal and neurologic systems, as well as any additional diagnostics that may be required.  Our practice incorporates the cutting edge of neuroscience to provide a treatment that is a powerful adjunct to other therapeutic 100_5180modalities.

 

How does it work?

Acupuncture invokes neuromodulation by stimulating nerve endings and inducing local and distant changes in the body. Acupuncture enhances blood and lymph flow at the local level, relieves myofascial trigger points, modulates traffic in the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, causes release of anti-pain and anti-inflammatory molecules from the brain stem and local tissues, and improves balance between the sympathetic (stress response) and parasympathetic (rest response) nervous systems.

 

Anatomic and physiologic studies confirm the presence of specific “afferent” nerve endings at acupuncture points, which transport input to the peripheral nerves, associated spinal cord segments, and brain.  This information is processed and endogenous regulation results in improved circulation and organ function, analgesia, muscle relaxation, and normalized immune function.  Dr. Luikart and other medical acupuncturists study these connections and choose acupuncture sites according to the desired neuromodulatory effect.

 

Effects include:

Improved nerve function

Relaxation of muscles and fascia

Improved circulation and faster healing

Control of pain and inflammation

 

What types of conditions can you treat?

Nearly any medical condition can benefit from acupuncture.  Some of the most common conditions treated include:

Arthritis

Neurologic injury (such as intervertebral disc disease)

Digestive disturbances (gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, colitis, diarrhea, constipation)

Allergies (itching, ear infections, chronic licking)

Urinary dysfunction (cystitis, incontinence)

Post operative/trauma recovery

Chronic pain (from injury, surgery, or other disease process)

Behavioral problems

In addition, many hospitalized pets can benefit from daily acupuncture treatment while in our hospital.

 

Does acupuncture hurt?100_4659

Most pets find their treatment enjoyable, or at least tolerable.  Some pets even fall asleep during treatment. We try to maintain a relaxed and nonstressful environment as much as possible.  Some pets however, may be very sensitive, and we never force treatments on any pet.

 

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a safe treatment for many health problems.  In the hands of an appropriately trained professional, acupuncture is very safe.  On occasion, some pets may seem lethargic or even a little worse for a day or two after the first treatment.  This usually passes and the pet feels much better.

 

What is a typical treatment like?

First Appointment: On your first visit, Dr. Luikart will book an entire hour to spend with you and your pet.  This visit is very important, because every case is different and we need to thoroughly understand your pet’s specific situation.

Dr. Luikart will perform a complete physical examination, including a careful evaluation of your pet’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  One of medical acupuncture’s main tenets is that appropriate treatment stems only from appropriate diagnosis.  Therefore, Dr. Luikart may recommend further workup prior to setting a treatment program, which could include diagnostics such as bloodwork or radiographs.

Dr. Luikart is trained in osteopathic myofascial palpation and trigger point diagnosis.  This helps to identify fascial restrictions and painful spots, directs attention to specific joints or body parts, and guides the selection of points for acupuncture treatment.

Finally, Dr. Luikart will proceed with needling.  We often go very slow and easy on the first treatment since we do not want pets to find the treatment stressful.  First treatments may only involve needling of 3 or 4 points, although this is highly variable.  The success of treatment does not depend on the number of needles used.  Often we may use adjunct therapy at this time such as laser or massage.  The needles often stay in for 10-15 minutes, and we may incorporate electrical stimulation in some patients.  Once the fascia has relaxed, and the tissues have responded, the needles may fall out on their own, or Dr. Luikart will remove them.

Follow up appointments: During subsequent appointments, various parts of the initial visit will be repeated, but normally follow up treatments will take about 30 minutes.

How many times do animals need to be treated?

100_4960-001Often 2-3 treatments lasting 20-30 minutes are given in the first 2 weeks, then the frequency is tapered to what is appropriate for each case.  Depending on the type of illness, severity of symptoms, and overall health of the pet, this may be once weekly, once per month or two, or simply as needed.

 

 

Does acupuncture always help?

Not always.  Like any treatment, we see a few miraculous cases and a few do not respond at all.  The majority of pets will get some significant benefit.  Acupuncture does not replace regular veterinary medicine and other treatment modalities, and we do encourage a thorough diagnostic workup prior to initiating treatment.  Every animal is different and the benefits may increase over time.  Acupuncture is a valuable adjunct tool for many problems and can often reduce dependency on more invasive or side effect prone treatments.

How much does acupuncture cost?

The initial consultation and treatment as described above is $180, and all follow up visits are $70.

Hospitalized patients are treated on a case by case basis and prices range from $45-65 per treatment.

Please call our hospital to schedule an appointment with Dr. Luikart or give us a call for more information.

 

Reverse Sneezing

Think your pet might be reverse sneezing, check out Suki’s video. If you have questions on reverse sneezing give us a call. 775-358-6880

Itching and Allergies in Pets

By Kim Luikart, DVM 

Coping with an itchy pet can be extremely frustrating. Persistent scratching and chewing can quickly lead to wounds and secondary infections and should be addressed quickly.  In humans, allergies usually result in “hay fever.”  Dogs and cats can sometimes have respiratory allergies, but more commonly experience allergic hypersensitivity as skin problems including redness, itching, recurring skin/ear infections, and hair loss.The most common causes of chronic itching fall into two groups: external parasites and allergies.The major types of allergies include flea hypersensitivity (a response to the flea’s saliva), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis.

External parasites that most commonly cause problems include fleas, lice, or mites.  Fleas are rarely seen in this area but can cause problems, especially in the winter months.

Food Allergy- Pets can develop hypersensitivity to specific components of the diet, usually a protein or carbohydrate such as beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, or soy.  Diagnosing food allergy requires a food trial in which your pet is fed a prescription limited ingredient diet with ingredients your pet has not eaten before for 10-16 weeks.

Atopic dermatitis- Atopy is an inherited predisposition to allergies associated with pollens, house dust mites, or mold spores.  Diagnosis may be made by ruling out other causes, or in some cases, referral to a specialist for allergy testing.  Symptomatic drug therapy with steroids or other drug therapies often alleviate symptoms.

Secondary infections- Allergies are often the underlying cause of skin and ear infections.  Bacterial and skin infections can increase the level of itching.  Long term treatment with antibiotics and anti-yeast medications, as well as prescription shampoos is commonly required.

Unfortunately there are no cures for allergies and they will remain a lifelong problem.  Our goal is to control the allergies and improve the quality of life for you and your pet.