Monday, March 20, 2017

Can you help science help itchy dogs?

Labrador, itchy dogs
What are the genetic risk factors for itching in labs and golden retrievers?

Have you ever lived with an itchy dog? Not just a scratch here and there, but every time you turn around they’re chewing their feet or biting around their tale or vigorously scratching an ear with a hind leg.

Its uncomfortable. And if you happen to share a bed with a dog who scratches, no one gets any sleep. The main causes of itching or pruritis in dogs in Australia are fleas (I think we routinely underestimate the impact these guys have on dog’s quality of life), atopic dermatitis (allergies to pollens, dust mites, things we can’t see that are often airborne), and food allergy. Some dogs have a combination which can make management frustrating and tricky.

Researchers in the UK are trying to get to the bottom of a genetic basis for atopic dermatitis in Labradors and retrievers. Owners of Labradors and golden retrievers (must be purebred) over three years old are invited to take part.

According to Nottingham Veterinary School Research Fellow Dr Naomi Harvey, “We know that at least 10 per cent of dogs suffer from long-term skin allergies and it can have a serious impact on their lives, and on the owners’ lives in dealing with it. We need to collect data on both atopic (itchy) and non-atopic (non-itchy) dogs from these breeds so we can look for differences between them at a genetic, environmental and behavioural level to help us better understand the causes and impact of the disease.”
You can read more here, and register your dog for the survey here.  This site also contains information about atopic dermatitis, and info for vets and nurses.