About Roy Faulkner DVM

Dr Faulkner is a veterinary surgeon in the Pinellas County and Tampa Bay area of Florida. Dr Faulkner also is a web designer and internet marketer providing internet services to animal hospitals and other small businesses.

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Pet Allergies | What You Need to Know

Pet Allergies | What You Need to Know

Allergies in Pets

by Roy T Faulkner DVM, MS

It’s not easy for pet owners to know that their pet cat or dogs has an allergy, because pets exhibit different reactions to the things that we are allergic to. For instance – a pet may have a different allergic reaction to grass pollen. While grass pollen typically causes sneezing in humans, in pet dogs, it causes itching in the feet. Allergies in pets has become one of the most common problems seen by veterinarians and even has become a specialty.



Allergies in pets have to be diagnosed as early as possible and treated quickly, if not, our pet cats and dogs may suffer for their entire lives. The symptoms get worse as our pets get older. That’s why allergies in pets should be taken seriously.

Here, we offer a comprehensive take on allergies in pets. We discuss the causes and symptoms of allergies, the various diagnostic tests used and the treatments available. Read on!

Causes of Allergies in Pets

Allergies in cats and dogs are a result of the immune system of these pets reacting excessively to something which isn’t much of a threat. The immune systems of pets may overreact to peanuts, pollen or laundry detergent.

The most common cause of allergies in pets is fleas. The material that causes allergic reactions in pets is called an antigen – which is a protein. Antigen may be described as Allergen, when it is air borne.

Antigens are grouped into 3 categories; all allergies in pets are caused by materials belonging to one or more of these categories. Allergies in pets are caused by…

  • What a pet eats – foods, preservatives, additives, food storage mites, dyes etc. An overwhelming majority of dog food allergies, almost 66%, and 90% of cat food allergies are caused by beef, dairy, and wheat.
  • What a pet breathes – pollens, cigarette smoke, perfumes cat dander, particles released carpets, decks subjected to preservatives etc. Inhaled pet allergies cause itchy, not sneezing, and is referred to as Atopy.

  • What a pet’s skin comes into contact with – fleas, dust mites, soaps, wool etc. Allergies in pets are responsible for causing skin disease in them. Flea allergy is the most common cause.

What’s also clear is that the greater the exposure your pets have to these antigens, more intense is the allergy.

Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

Itching dog with pet allergy

Itching is the most common symptom seen in pets that have an allergy.

The most common symptoms of allergies in pets are:

  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Ear infections
  • Scratching
  • Skin infections
  • Scooting
  • Odor
  • Face rubs
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive bowel movements
  • Burping
  • Flatulence

The most common clinical signs of allergies in pets are itching and scratching. Foul odor, skin infections, surface bumps, diarrhea, ear infections and scooting are also common signs that indicate that your pet cat or dog has an allergy.

Diagnosis of Allergies in Pets



There are several laboratory tests that are used in the diagnosis of pet allergies. These tests may involve an examination of the serum, WBC count and fluid in the blood and identifying parasitic infection, if any.

The Following Diagnostic Tests Are Used to Diagnose Allergies in Dogs and Cats

RAST Pet Allergy Skin Test

The RAST or Radioallergosorbent Serum Test examines a pet’s reaction to certain antigens such as fleas, pollens and mites. While effective in a majority of cases, the RAST test is not always the best indicator because of the absence of a correlation between what a pet’s blood reacts to and what are the symptoms the pet exhibits.

Intradermal Skin Tests

Intradermal skin tests are pet diagnostic tests, that involve the injection of the antigens that a pet is allergic to injected into a shaved area of its skin. The main goal of this test is to identify what your pet cat or dog should stay away from. If the injection leads to a higher histamine release and increased blood flow, noticed by the formation of a red, puffy skin around the injection point – then it’s easy to identify the affecting antigen.

Food Allergy Elimination Trial

Food allergy elimination trials require the pets to be given a specific diet, such as Hill’s Z/D diet and finding out after a few weeks how the pet tolerates this food. Causes of food allergies are identified this way. If the tests are still found inconclusive, more foods are added to the pet’s diet. What’s important to note here is that, during a Food allergy elimination trial, a pet can have nothing else whatsoever. It cannot have any treats, chewies, bones or any medication. So you should be very cautious about what your pet cat or dog is up to during the time of this test and ensures that it eats nothing different from what’s in the special diet.

Pets with Allergies – The Treatments

There are no definite cures or treatments for allergies in dogs and cats. What can be done is to alleviate the symptoms, prevent the causes of the allergies and offer certain remedies. We discuss some of the treatments recommended by veterinarians for pets suffering from allergies.

Natural Remedies

Let’s have a look at a couple of natural remedies recommended by vets for allergies in pets. These remedies have zero side effects and are 100% safe.

Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are really effective at reducing the pet’s immune system’s inclination to overreact. It takes time to work though, around a month or so, as the fatty acids have to be incorporated into the cells in the body. But Omega 3 fatty acids work on most occasions and should be given to a pet cat or dog as a part of its regular diet to prevent allergic attacks.


Yucca has excellent and completely natural anti-inflammatory powers and helps the pet’s immune system to get stronger. It helps to mitigate the effects of an allergy without causing any side effects.

Medications Given to Pets With Allergies

Medicated Shampoos and Conditioners

Shampoos and conditioners are known to ease allergy symptoms. For example, Relief Shampoo, HyLyt Essential Fatty Acid Shampoo and Excel Hydrocortisone Shampoo provide soothing itch relief.


Antihistamines such as Benadryl, are recommended by veterinarians anytime a pet develops allergy symptoms. They are not always effective, but they are the initial medications that are always given for allergies in pet cats and dogs. Common antihistamines include Hydroxyzine HCl (Rx), Diphenhydramine (or Generic Benadryl) and Chlorpheniramine 4mg.


Steroids are known to clamp down on allergies in pets, but after an excellent initial impact, the efficacy of steroids gradually diminishes. So a steroid injection could stave off allergies in pets for a period of 4 to 6 weeks, after that, any further steroid injections would diminish in effectiveness.
Steroids shouldn’t be administered in excess as that might cause aggression, irritation, increases bladder flow, thinning of the skin, vomiting, diarrhea and so on, in pets. They can be taken orally or injected directly into the blood stream.


Immune modulators such as Cyclosporine (Modified) Generic or Atopica work on the WBC in the blood, preventing them from stimulating histamine release. Immune modulators are known to have side effects such as upset stomachs, but are preferred to steroids.

Immune-Modulating Allergy Shots

This technique involves administering a series of immune modulating allergy shots injections into the pet. But the immune modulating allergy shots treatment should be done only by experienced veterinarians as, if not done well, it could cause shock and anaphylaxis in your pet cat or dog.

What You Should Do At Home When Your Pet has an Allergy

There is a lot you can do at home to ensure that your pet cat or dog remains protected from allergens such as pollens, grasses, mites and molds. First, you should only feed the pet the freshest dry kibble, and always use glass or stainless steel bowls for the feeding, rather than plastic bowls. All pet food should be kept frozen.

You should use air filters at home, keep the windows close at all times. It’s important to have the home vacuumed regularly and to dust the furniture with a wet cloth. Carpets should be cleaned regularly – hire a professional carpet cleaning service for this purpose.

Beddings have to be washed with hot water, and take care to use only a perfume free detergent. Pets should not be allowed into lawns while you’re mowing and should be kept indoors when the air is filled with pollen. Pets should not be let anywhere close to treated wood decks and cedar chips shouldn’t be allowed in pet beds.

Dental Care and Cleaning | Tampa FL 33604 – Oak Tree Animal Hospital

Dental Care and Cleaning | Tampa FL 33604 – Oak Tree Animal Hospital

Both Cats and Dogs Need Good Dental Care to Stay Healthy

In the United States, February of each year has been designated as Pet Dental Health Month, to remind pet owners of just how important dog dental care or cat dental care is. Let’s talk about why you should be deeply concerned about your pet cat or dog’s dental care, and why you should visit a pet dental care hospital such as the Oak Tree Animal Hospital, in Brandon Florida, this February, or for that matter, during any time of the year. Nothing is more important than your pet cat or dog’s dental care.


Why Do Your Pets Need Dental Care Anyway?


Our pet cats and dogs are living longer than at any time in the past. Thanks largely to the great advance in veterinary science, more effective preventive medicine for our pets, such as vaccinations, more advanced technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment. Today, it has been found by veterinarians across the country that no other pet health issue is as common today as oral disease among cats and dogs.


Gum diseases such as periodontal disease are quite common, perhaps because while our pet cats and dogs are living much longer and healthier lives than their ancestors, their teeth do not last just as long, and hence need extra care.


Also, because of the selective breeding of many cats and dogs, there is a misalignment of their teeth, because of an overcrowding of the mouth, which leave them vulnerable to dental problems.


Lastly, since our pet cats and dogs don’t hunt for food anymore, they no longer have access to the natural cleaning action provided by Mother Nature when wild cats or dogs sink their teeth into the raw hide of their prey.


Next, let’s talk about the common health issues tackled by pet dentistry, about periodontal disease, and a bit about dental prophylaxis.


What is Periodontal Disease and Why is it so Dangerous for your Pet Cat or Dog?


Periodontal disease or gum disease is initially caused by plaque – which is made of small food particles, bacteria and saliva. Plaque sticks to the surface of the tooth, and must be removed regularly, otherwise, it is likely to build up further along the gumline and calcify into tartar, as the minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and solidify it further.


If the tartar has been formed because of the failure to have had the plaque removed regularly, this would cause an inflammation known as gingivitis and a lot of irritation to the pet’s gums. A pronounced reddening of the gums may be noticed, bad breath may be observed as well.


When the tartar has been formed, it is very important to have it removed and the gums cleaned, using a process called dental prophylaxis. Otherwise, this could cause further damage to the supportive tissues and jawbone, causing really bad breath and, possibly, result in the loss of teeth.


If the tartar has still not been removed, it quickly calcifies around the gums and the gumline, separating the gums from the teeth, forming a small enclosed space, which is a breeding ground for more bacterial growth. When this happens, the pain can be excruciating, loss of teeth is almost a certainty. Eventually, this leads to even worse consequences such bone loss, abscesses and an infection of the kidneys, liver and even the heart valves. Well, this in a nutshell, is called Periodontal disease, and when it happens in a pet cat or dog, it is more often than not, irreversible. However, if the pet is treated by a veterinarian in time, periodontal disease can be stopped, or at least, slowed down and made less severe.


How can you tell that your pet has Periodontal disease and needs a dental cleaning?


This may surprise you, but as much as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that are three years old or above, have periodontal disease in one form or another. To find out if your pet has the periodontal disease as well, you may check for obvious signs such as Bad breath, loose teeth, discolored teeth, pawing at the mouth, facial swelling, receding gums, any excessive drooling, inability to hold on to food while eating, reluctance to chew food, or even to eat it, visible signs of pain when patted on the head, extreme behavioral changes, lethargy, unusual aggression, or blood stained inflamed gums.


What should you do if you suspect that your pet cat or dog has Periodontal Disease?

Clearly, if your pet cat or dog exhibits any of the symptoms of periodontal disease or even mild forms of gum disease, it is important to visit a veterinarian specializing in pet dentistry at the earliest, before the problem gets any worse. There’s no time to waste, arrange a cat dental or dog dental checkup at a pet animal hospital or clinic ASAP.


What Happens in Pet Dental Care?

Generally, pet dental care consists of:

  •   An oral exam by the veterinarian
  •   Dental Cleaning or Dental Prophylaxis
  •   Home dental care

A pet dental treatment is not much different from what it is for humans – consisting of a complete dental examination, administration of a general anesthetic, dental cleaning or dental prophylaxis, done using the hand as well as with the help of ultrasonic technology, and finally scaling and polishing of the teeth. If any fractured or loose teeth need to be removed, an anesthetic is given, and antibiotics injected to prevent gum infection.


What happens during Oral Exams by the Veterinarian?

During an oral examination of the pet, the veterinarian checks for signs of plaque or tartar formation, inflammation of the gums or gingivitis, symptoms of periodontal disease, fractured or abscessed teeth. Here’s what happens during an oral examination of the pet.

  •  The teeth and gums are examined very closely, and the pet’s bite is noted.
  •  The Pet cat or dog’s head and face are minutely observed for any asymmetry, swelling, or discharges.
  •  The pet cat or dog’s mouth is closely examined and the tongue, tonsils, mucosa, palates as well as the inner surface of the teeth and gums are checked with precision.
  • The salivary glands and the lymph nodes in the neck are observed for consistency or any abnormality.


How does Dental Prophylaxis or Dental Cleaning by the Veterinarian Work?

Dental prophylaxis is a dental cleaning procedure for your pet cat or dog, which is both thorough and extensive and involves the use of technology. Dental prophylaxis is recommended if the state of the pet’s teeth and gums are so poor that even cleaning them regularly at home has no effect whatsoever. This is because, once the tartar has been formed on your pet’s jaw line, there is nothing much you can do. The only solution is to get the dental prophylaxis done.


A typical dental prophylaxis involves the following 10 steps:

Step 1. Pre-dental cleaning physical examination and blood collection for pre-anesthetic laboratory evaluation

Step 2. Administration of pre-anesthetic and anesthetic to the pet

Step 3. Subjecting the pet’s mouth to X-ray radiography, closely examining the state of all the teeth as well as the bones in the mouth.

Step 4. Flushing the pet’s mouth with a special solution aimed to kill all the bacteria within.

Step 5. Thoroughly cleaning the teeth with instruments called Scalers after keeping it under the effect of anesthesia. An ultrasonic scaler is the primary instrument used and in some cases hand scaling may be needed.  This is important to remove the tartar buildup at the gumline.

Step 6. Polishing the teeth thoroughly, using a special prophy-paste to disclose any affected areas left untreated, and, to closely remove any minute scratches.

Step 7. Inspecting all the teeth, the gums and tongue and noting down any affected areas.

Step 8. Flushing the pet’s mouth with a special solution to kill the remaining bacteria, flouride treatment and sealer may be applied, to slow down plaque formation in the future.

Step 9. Making a note of anything abnormal that needs further examination, treatment or follow up.

Step 10. Deciding on the next treatment procedure to be followed to safeguard the pet’s dental health.


What about Daily Home Oral Care for Your Pet?


Daily home oral care for pets is quite simple and you can do it yourself at home, without any medical assistance from a specialist. However, if you notice any abnormality, you should take your pet cat or dog immediately for a pet dental checkup by a specialist in pet dentistry. Basically, it involves brushing the pet’s teeth regularly, removing any formation of plaque, flushing its mouth with a special solution and checking for any visible signs of periodontal disease.



We hope you have found the information given by us on pet dental care quite useful. Remember to take your pet for a dental checkup at at the Oak Tree Animal Hospital, in Brandon, Florida this February, which is observed by pet owners all over the United States as the Pet Dental Health Month.

What Can Be Done About Cat Box Accidents

What Can Be Done About Cat Box Accidents

There’s probably nothing extra frustrating to a cat owner than litter box accidents. In reality, habitual litter field accidents are the primary reason why cat house owners give their cats as much as animal shelters. When your cat refuses to make use of the litter box, there may be often an underlying reason. Earlier than you turn into exasperated by your cat’s incapability to make it to the litter box, listed below are some widespread causes for this problem.

Litter Box Woes

One of many fundamental the reason why a cat begins to refuse to make use of the litter field is because their own litter field is dirty. Many cats are extraordinarily fussy concerning the condition of their litter field, whereas others will use it irrespective of how full it looks. If your cat has a litter field accident, the primary place you must examine is the litter box. Some pets favor that their litter field cleaned out after each use. While this is time consuming for you, it might be a easy repair to this problem. You must begin a day by day routine of cleansing out your cat field and you might find that this solves your problem.

Another common drawback associated to the litter field is there aren’t enough litter boxes for the number of cats you have. For example, you probably have four cats in your home, and you need to have at the least one litter box per cat. Cats prefer to have their very own house, and this is very true when it comes to their litter box. Actually, many veterinarians suggest that even in case you have only one cat, you need to have at least litter boxes.

As well as, with regards to litter box accidents, have a look at the type of litter you are utilizing and the dimensions and shape of the litter box. When you’ve got a tray litter box with out a lid, perhaps your cat would really feel safer in a closed box. You probably have an older cat, or a young kitten, you cat may have a tough time getting out and in of a closed high box. Watch your cat rigorously when she or he makes use of the litter box. For those who discover that, they are having a tough time getting in and out of the litter box and think about getting a different box. Additionally, take a look at the kind of litter you use. Your cat may be extraordinarily fussy concerning the odor or texture of the litter. Many people preferred utilizing the news away litter; nevertheless, many cats is not going to use one of these litter, as a result of it sticks in the paws. You may additionally discover that the litter you utilize causes a whole lot of mud that’s disagreeable to your cat.

Well being Points

Your cat could also be refusing to make use of the litter box, because of health related issues. If you have tried all of the above tips and nothing seems to be working, then it is time to go to your veterinarian. Cats which have bladder problems, urinary tract infections, kidney failure and diabetes are extra susceptible to litter box accidents than healthy cats. You should take your cat to the vet and have an intensive well being exam carried out to seek out out if your cat is suffering around an ailment. If that is so, your veterinarian can prescribe remedy to help your cat.

Habit and Your Cat’s Territory

In case your cat has been ailing or have stopped using the litter field for any of purpose, chances are you’ll discover that your cat returns to their old methods out of habit. This can be very necessary that when your cat has a litter box accident, that you simply clean the realm totally to eliminate any odors that may remain. As well as, your cat might haven’t stopped using the litter box at all but as an alternative, your cat is marking his or her territory. That is particularly common in multi-cat households or once you usher in new pet into the home. That is also extra widespread in males than females. Even male cats which can be neutered can mark their territory by spraying urine.

If you determine why your cat is having litter box accidents, yow will discover a solution. It takes time and persistence; nonetheless, this is far more preferable than eliminating your cat.

Oak Tree Animal Hospital
7201 Armenia Avenue North
Tampa FL 33604

A veterinary animal hospital located in Hillsborough County providing veterinary medical
and surgical care in Northwest Tampa and surrounding areas.

Need veterinary care for your dog or cat? We are an affordable animal hospital in Tampa FL.

Call us for an appointment and let us help you with your best friend and companion.

Lyme Disease Vaccination for Dogs | Get Answers Now

Lyme Disease Vaccination for Dogs | Get Answers Now

Vaccinate Your Dog for Lyme Disease or Not? What is the answer?

Tick on a Dog at Oak Tree Animal Hospital in Tampa FLThe argument continues whether to immunize or not immunize for Lyme disease. If vets can not concur, exactly how does a client decide. Anytime a veterinarian chooses to utilize a vaccine, Lyme disease or other, the veterinarian needs to weigh the risks and advantages for the client. So what are some of the aspects to consider.

Where does your pet live?

Living in an endemic location for Lyme disease should be considered. In human beings, 95 % of Lyme disease cases are found in 12 endemic states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest. In some of these areas, 70 % to 90 % of the healthy pets have been exposed to Lyme disease. An important component for avoidance in the locations is good tick control, which can reduce the danger for illness. Vaccination must be thought about more often in an endemic location.

Exactly how fantastic is the threat of severe condition, once a pet dog is contaminated?

Usually, the danger of serious condition, as soon as the dog is contaminated, is low. It has actually been stated that less than 2 % of exposed canines establish the more severe ailment, Lyme nephritis (kidney swelling). Co-infection (infection with more than one representative) appears to result in even more severe illness. There likewise could be a hereditary predisposition to the degree of inflammation produced from the condition. Retrievers and soft-coated wheaten terriers appear to a hereditary susceptibility. In researches, less than 5 % of favorable pets had arthritis, the most typical disease. These cases typically react quickly to common and affordable prescription antibiotics.

How efficient is the vaccine?

Certainly not as reliable as other vaccines. The vaccine appears to prevent infection in 60 % -86 % of the canines immunized. Protection is not long enduring and enhancer vaccinations are provided every 6 months or at least every year.

Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccine does not appear to be as safe as the more common vaccines used today for other conditions. In a 1.2 million study of immunized canines, the Lyme vaccine produced more after vaccination adverse responses within 3 days, than any other vaccine. These responses were judged as moderate. The responses were related to swelling. In a research study, 30 % of the pet dogs with Lyme nephritis had actually been provided the Lyme vaccine 2 weeks to 15 months prior to health problem. This also brings up the question whether or not to immunize retrievers and soft-coated wheaten terriers. They most likely SHOULD NOT be immunized.


1. Tick control is important is assisting to prevent the disease.
2. Most pets tested favorable for Lyme disease are nonclinical.
3. Vast bulk of validated cases can be treated with common and low-cost prescription antibiotics.
4. A lot of pets do not display signs of Lyme disease after vaccination, but the same is true for normally exposed pet dogs.
5. Lyme disease vaccine have a brief period and trigger even more post vaccination negative events.
6. The pet dogs most prone to Lyme disease (genetic predisposition), which require the most security, should not be immunized.
Hopefully this offers some helpful info in making a decision to vaccinate for Lyme disease or not.

Oak Tree Animal Hospital
7201 Armenia Avenue North
Tampa FL 33604

A veterinary animal hospital located in Hillsborough County providing veterinary medical
and surgical care in Northwest Tampa and surrounding areas.

Need veterinary care for your dog or cat? We are an affordable animal hospital in Tampa FL.

Call us for an appointment and let us help you with your best friend and companion.