Pets and Allergies

Pets and Allergies

It’s Allergy Season Again

This is the time of year when allergies make everyone miserable: sneezing, itchy skin, itchy eyes.  Our pets are no different.  This month’s article will address things to know about our itchy, sneezing pets.

The first thing we think about when pets start scratching is food allergies.  However, environmental allergens are more common.  Examples of inhaled allergens are dust, pollen, cleaning products and perfumes.  A pet will scratch or lick itchy areas until the skin is broken or a bald patch appears.

If a pet is sneezing it could be allergic bronchitis.  If the pet inhales an offending allergen, it coats the lining of the airways and triggers an allergic reaction.  This will cause coughing and even difficulty breathing.   If the pet is struggling to breathe, take it to the vet immediately.

Fleas are the most common cause of allergies. The saliva of the fleas can cause an allergic reaction when the flea bites.  In very sensitive animals, even a single flea bite can be problematic.  Here where we live, we should keep our pets on year-round flea prevention.

In food allergies, proteins are the most common cause.  Chicken, beef and eggs are the most common offenders.  It’s hard to diagnose a food allergy.  You will have to do food trials by eliminating a suspected food for two to three months and reintroducing it to the diet.  If symptoms go away and then return, you have your culprit.  If not, then repeat with another food.  It is possible to get food that breaks down the proteins so small that they don’t trigger reactions.  Talk to you vet about it.

It is possible to do allergy testing on your pet.  It’s done either by skin testing or blood testing.  This can be quite expensive, however.  Pets can also be given allergen specific immunotherapy just as humans can. 

When allergies are out of control, your vet can give your pet a steroid shot for the symptoms.  It’s almost immediate relief.  Steroids can be given three or four times a year.  Again, talk to your vet about it.  If symptoms are severe, the vet will use his/her discretion about the intervals for steroid injections.

Daphne Rashall

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