Spring is (was) here  

     We used to rely on certain trees and flowers to follow the calendar and herald the coming of spring. For easterners, it may be the crocus flower emerging from the ground while it was still dusted with snow. For those in the west, deciduous plants would begin to bud followed by an explosion of leaves within weeks.
     Lately it seems that spring is arriving earlier than years past. Although parts of the country that experienced the last brutal winter are no doubt welcoming the warmer weather.
     Still, some trees and plants are blooming sooner than in years past. Additionally, plants that were restricted to certain “planting zones” are now finding new admirers as the environment becomes more suitable to their temperature range as these temperate zones expand into new areas.
     People and pets with seasonal allergies are also affected by this shift because pollens are released earlier in the season and what may have been a expected nuisance in April, may now start in March (or even February)!
Mild allergic symptoms may be controlled with symptomatic therapy, but be sure to ask your veterinarian for guidance on dosage for your pet with over the counter medications that may be recommended.
     Often seasonal allergies become year round ailments with excessive licking and scratching at extremities, face or the trunk to alleviate itching sensations. Each pet is unique and managing allergies is a multi-modal process that may involve oral and topical symptomatic relief while simultaneously investigating underlying triggers via allergy testing, food trials and eliminating other causes of irritation and itching . Also severity of symptoms may worsen over time and from season to season and year to year. So what may have been effective for one pet or in one season or year may not provide help for another. Ask your veterinarian for the best options in diagnosing and managing your allergic pet.

Bee Allergy in Pets:

Bee venom immunotherapy can help alleviate symptoms

     Bees play an important part in the cycle of plants, but can cause havoc for a bee allergic pet. Animal Dermatology Clinic specializes in diagnosing and treating allergic conditions in pets, but one of the less commonly known therapies available to pets is bee or wasp venom immunotherapy. Pets, like people can be highly sensitive to a bee sting. For most animals, a bee sting is unpleasant, but for one that is allergic, a bee sting can cause local reactions, swelling of the throat, hives, or in some extreme cases, even anaphylaxis. Without immediate treatment, death may result in an severely sensitized allergic patient. The use of Epi-Pen injectable epinephrine products has been used in the past but is controversial and many referral and research facilities recommend against this as some patients can develop worsening signs which exacerbate the problems. While antihistamines or corticosteroids may be administered to help in a crisis situation, desensitization with been venom preventative therapy may be the best approach.
     Reactions to bee or wasp stings can vary depending on the size of the pet, the location of the sting and the sensitivity of the patient. Many pets love to “chase” and ingest bees and envenomation in the oral cavity can be particularly concerning. Pets may also be stung without the knowledge of the pet owner. At Animal Dermatology Clinic, we can test and begin immunotherapy for bee or wasp hypersensitivity. While it may not always be 100% effective in controlling all allergic signs of envenomation from a venomous insect sting, it will significantly lessen the reactions and allows for medical management to be instituted in the most severely allergic patient.
     If you have seen evidence of a reaction or suspect that your pet may be bee or wasp allergic, it is wise to err on the side of caution when taking your pet outdoors. Bee and wasp testing with hyposensitization therapy may allow for less concern for you and your pet when enjoying the great outdoors!
     Image above:  Wasp (left) Wikicommons Richard Bartz

     Coyotes Go Urban

     Canis latrans is a distant relative of our beloved dog, Canis lupus familiaris. Originally from the Midwest plains, these clever animals are now found coast to coast and getting quite comfortable.
     As the human population has encroached into coyote territory, coyotes easily adapt to habits of humans and capitalize on the interaction, most often to the irritation of the human. In rural areas, coyotes prey upon grazing animals, small domesticated pets and on the very rare occasion an unfortunate human!
     Today, coyotes are seen in many urban communities walking the streets most often during their active hours of dawn and dusk. Coyotes are omnivores and sadly, pets are on the preferred list for coyotes.
     Coyotes can easily clear a 5-foot fence and a 6–7 foot fences can still be scaled by an ingenious and hungry coyote. If you live in an area with coyote activity, an unattended pet in a fenced backyard may still fall prey. Stories abound from pet owners where coyotes have entered fenced backyard with a sad outcome.
     The New York Times recently reported coyote sightings in Manhattan, probably one of the most urban and densely populated areas in the country. Coyotes are here to stay and it is critical for people to discourage food opportunities by securing garbage bins and keeping a watchful and protective eye on pets.
Images above:  Wikicommons, (left) Macmanes, (right) Mayra

Factoid: Coyote, Dog or Wolf?

These animals are from the same genus Canis but an interesting characteristic that defines them is the way they run. A coyote runs with his tail down, a wolf with his tail straight out and a dog runs with his tail up.

  If you meet a coyote...

     Nearly every populous city offers a remote area for recreational activity: hiking, biking, walking or camping. Part of the enchantment of these areas is to offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. Often dogs are more than happy to accompany you on these adventures.
     Wildlife and most likely coyotes live in these areas. You and your dog are entering their territory but you should not encourage contact or offer food. Many people enjoy the solitude of these remote areas but traveling in pairs does offer safety in many ways.
     It is wise to keep your dog on a leash and not let the dog chase the coyote. Coyotes often travel in packs and should your dog chase one coyote, he may find himself facing many coyotes in a remote area.
     It is a rare occurence that a coyote will be aggresive towards an adult, merely due to the size difference, but in Southern California encounters are increasing. If you do encounter a coyote, experts provide the following tips:
  • Do not run. It will only encourage a chase which the coyote will certainly outrun you. Instead, stand tall and use what you have to make yourself appear larger. Open your coat or hold your backpack over your head.
  • Make eye contact with the coyote and slowly back away. Do not turn your back to the coyote.
  • If rocks or sticks are readily available, throw them at the coyote.
  • Make loud noises, by yelling or clapping your hands.
The coyote has been protrayed as a bumbling roadrunner chaser, but in reality they are intelligent predators. While they may look like dogs, they are not domesicated pets and to maintain our co-existence with them, we must give them respect while being cautious and mindful when they are about.

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