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Animal Allergy & Dermatology Clinic: Because Pets Get Sniffles, Too

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When we suffer from allergies, we usually see a specialist who is trained in the field. Well, your pet can suffer from allergies, too. And just like you, it should be seen by a specialist who can provide the expertise to get to the root of the problem. Dr. Rada Panich is a Board-certified veterinary dermatologist who specializes in treating pets with allergy and skin conditions. She does so at the Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic (318 Warren Street, 718-522-9400), a facility located inside the Veterinarian Emergency and Referral Group. “It’s the first of its kind in Brooklyn,” says Dr. Panich, about the Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic. Before she opened this Brooklyn practice last summer, the nearest specialty center was located in Manhattan, she says. That’s a long way to travel with an unhappy pet. According to Dr. Panich, it is quite common for dogs and cats to be allergic to pollens, molds, and dust mites, just as humans are. Besides being allergic to airborne substances, they may also experience food allergies. One of the signs that may indicate an allergy is hair loss or itching, she says, often on the ears, paws, or armpits. “This can conditions can make pets miserable,” says the doctor. Owners may notice “obsessive scratching or biting” by the animal. “They may assume the pet is nervous,” says the doctor. However, this may the “first sign” of an allergic reaction. It’s important to “catch the allergy in its early stages,” says Dr. Panich, as early diagnosis leads to improved results. Should your pet be experiencing any of these symptoms, she suggests bringing the animal in for a visit. The Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic will run a series of tests to determine what is causing the allergic reaction. From there, the doctor will develop a vaccine, which pet owners can usually administer themselves. “We teach the owners how to administer it,” says Dr. Panich. The doctor also treats common recurrent bacterial skin infections that are usually caused by staph bacteria. “Our role is to determine the underlying cause of these infections,” she says. It can be an allergic reaction, or such factors may indicate hormonal or endocrine conditions such as an under active thyroid gland, says Dr. Panich. This condition, called hypothyroidism, may cause hair loss, weight gain, and a decrease in the animal’s activities, she says. The good news is that this condition “responds very well to treatment,” which is usually a thyroid supplement, administered on a daily basis, says the doctor. Given to the animal by mouth, the tablet is often mixed with cream cheese or peanut butter. The animals considers it a treat, and usually take the pill without difficult, she says. Other more rare conditions include auto-immune diseases such as lupus. “It is generally diagnosed by skin biopsies,” says the doctor. “Life-long conditions require life-long management therapy,” she says, but with proper care, they are “treatable and controlled.” To become a Board-certified doctor, one must complete a one-year internship, a two-year residency, and a rigorous multi-day examination administered by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. Dr. Panich has been Board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology since 1992. She completed her residency at The New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She has practiced in New York City and Long Island since 1991. In addition, Dr. Panich is the author of many scientific articles and book chapters on canine and feline skin diseases. Her expertise includes managing chronic allergic dermatitis, recurrent infections, and autoimmune disorders. Should your pet need to see the dermatologist, call to make an appointment today. While the Veterinarian Emergency and Referral Group is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Dr. Panich’s practice is based on appointments. Additional information may be found at the website: www.itchypets.com.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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