Many pet owners may have experienced allergy problems in their pets, sometimes without even realizing it. While humans tend to suffer from sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes, allergies in pets generally crop up as skin and ear problems.
Allergies can make your pet miserable, and may even be detrimental to his or her health. With the right tools and a little elbow grease, it’s possible to manage your pet’s allergies, which will make both of you feel much better!
Pet Allergies 101
Simply put, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to otherwise harmless foreign particles in the bodies. Which substances (allergens) that will trigger allergies can vary widely from pet to pet, and may include dust, pollen, dander, fleas, a particular food, or other items.
Pet allergies can occur at any time in a pet’s life, but are often discovered between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. Common allergy symptoms in pets include:
- Scratching, chewing, or licking at the paws, ears, face, armpits, or groin
- Head shaking
- Inflamed or bumpy skin
- Rough red or black skin
- Hair loss
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- An unpleasant odor
- Watery eyes
Hot spots, caused by excessive scratching or licking of a particular area, may result if a pet’s allergies are left untreated. Hot spots are painful and may lead to a secondary infection that requires treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Besides examining your pet and taking a look at his or her history, your veterinarian may recommend the following diagnostics to either rule out allergies or to determine the cause:
- Skin cytology (to look for bacteria or yeast overgrowth)
- Cultures (to check for infection)
- Skin allergy testing
- Blood antibody testing
Treating Allergies in Pets
Depending on the type of allergy your pet has and its severity, your veterinarian may recommend oral antihistamines, topical treatments, fatty acids, steroids, prescription diets, or allergen specific immunotherapy (allergy shots). We’re also excited to announce that we’ve added additional allergy treatment tools to our arsenal! We’ve found great success using Apoquel, an oral medication used for allergy relief and in more severe cases where Apoquel is not appropriate, we also offer the Cytojet injection which is both safe & effective in escalated cases. In addition to treatments offered by your veterinarian, you can help your pet to feel more comfortable at home by:
- Making sure your pet is on flea preventive medication year-round
- Bathing your pet regularly with a hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner as recommended by your veterinarian
- Soaking your pet’s paws daily to ease inflammation and prevent allergens from being tracked into the home
- Supplementing with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (ask your vet for more details)
- Vacuuming your home and laundering pet bedding weekly to prevent the buildup of allergic triggers
Allergies can be extremely detrimental to a pet’s health and well-being. If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, please give your team at Dupont Veterinary Clinic a call.