Allergies have affected most of us in one form or another. Whether we have an allergy to pollen, mold, latex, nuts, or something else entirely, or know someone who does, we are familiar with the uncomfortable, and sometimes even dangerous, symptoms.
Animals also suffer from allergies in various forms, but the symptoms are often markedly different from those in humans. Although allergies in pets can be tricky to diagnose and treat, there are plenty of ways you can help to keep your allergic pet comfortable.
Allergies in Pets
Allergies in both people and pets are the result of the immune system’s overreaction to foreign particles that enter the body. The particles (allergens) can vary widely from pet to pet, but the most common causes of allergies in pets are:
- Flea saliva
- Environmental chemicals
- Certain foods
Signs and Symptoms
You are probably familiar with the sneezing and watery eyes that accompany seasonal allergies, or the intestinal discomfort of a food related allergy. Allergies in pets tend to manifest as skin issues, such as:
- Excessive scratching or licking of a specific area
- “Hot spots”, or areas of swollen, red, and weeping skin
- Paw chewing/licking
- Pawing at the face, eyes, or ears
- Hair loss
- Red or inflamed ears
- Head shaking
- An unpleasant odor
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, please give us a call right away. Your veterinarian will work with you to pinpoint your pet’s allergies through diagnostic testing and come up with a plan for his or her long-term health and comfort. Some of the treatments we commonly recommend are:
- Allergen specific immunotherapy – Exposure to the allergen in small doses, either through injection or orally, with the goal of building up the body’s tolerance over time.
- Cytopoint – Antibodies administered to your pet via injection every month to soothe the immune system and significantly reduce itching and other clinical signs of allergies.
- Apoquel – Oral allergy medication designed for itch relief.
Helping at Home
In addition to medical help, there are plenty of ways you can make life at home more comfortable for your allergic pet, including:
- Grooming – Regular brushing and bathing with a hypoallergenic or prescription shampoo can greatly reduce itching and improve the quality of your pet’s skin. Soaking the paws every day will also reduce inflammation and keep outdoor allergens from being tracked into the home.
- Cleaning – Reduce allergens in your home with regular vacuuming, sweeping, and laundering of blankets and pet bedding. A HEPA air filter can also make a positive difference.
- Nutritional changes – Besides any dietary changes or elimination plans recommended by your veterinarian, a quality Omega-3 fatty acid supplement (found in fish oil) can help to calm your pet’s inflammation. Give us a call for recommendations on brands and dosage.
- Parasite preventives – Keeping your pet on a year-round flea preventive medication is essential for protection from allergic symptoms.