Does Your Pet Have Allergies???
Allergies have been a commonly identified, yet frustrating, part of veterinary medicine for a very long time. We all know what we feel like when allergies strike, but what about our four-legged friends?
Allergy symptoms can begin at any time in a pet’s life, and they do not necessarily present following a change in lifestyle or food. The symptoms present themselves when your pet’s immune system recognizes an otherwise harmless, and often daily-encountered substance, as dangerous. Allergens can affect your pet’s immune system when they are inhaled, ingested or contact your pet’s skin. The symptoms that develop are the effect of the immune system’s attempt at removing these substances, and can manifest as primary skin, digestive and/or respiratory diseases.
What does this look like?? Your pet might experience some of the following:
- Red, moist, warm, scabbed skin
- Itching/scratching/licking at skin
- Red, swollen eyes with discharge
- Biting/scratching at base of tail
- Red, itchy, smelly, infected ears
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Biting/licking at paws
Allergic pets will often have secondary infections, due to the excessive licking/biting/scratching, which might require antibiotics or antifungals to control the infection(s).
But what is my pet allergic to??
Anything, and everything, can trigger an allergic reaction. A few common offenders include:
- Pollen from weeds/grasses/trees
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Fleas- for a pet that is allergic to fleas, it just takes one flea and one bite to trigger a response that can go on for weeks, and other parasites
- And the list goes on and on….
If you suspect your pet has allergies, please call our office to schedule an exam. Preventative measures should be taken to eliminate some of the more common causes of allergic disease- PARASITES. Monthly flea, tick and heartworm prevention is the cornerstone of preventative care, please stop in for advice on the best prevention for your pet. A blood test can, in some cases, be used to more definitively identify the source of your pet’s allergies, which then allows us to order allergy shots specifically formulated for your pet. Alternatively, we can talk to you about oral antihistamines and fatty acid supplements, as well as topical medications/shampoos/conditioners that are safe to try with your pet in an attempt to mitigate the clinical signs associated with allergies. If a food allergy is suspected, a food elimination trail can be done. During this trial, your pet will be fed a hypoallergenic diet only; no other flavored treats, toys or table scraps should be offered. This can help us better determine which food items are contributing to the allergic disease.
It is important to note that allergies are never cured, but they can and need to be managed so as not to put more pressure on your pet’s hard working immune system. Call or stop in with any questions, we are happy to help improve your pet’s comfort and quality of life!