Pets can be allergic to almost anything, including food, grass, mold, fleas and dander. Allergies can be a very frustrating problem for the pet and the owner. They often require intensive long-term treatment and commitment from all the family members.
Signs may include:
- Itching and scratching
- Hair loss
- Oily coat
- Odor to coat
- Frequent licking of feet
- Frequent rubbing of face
- Weepy or red eyes
- An exam is performed to determine if the pattern of skin problems points to a specific allergen. Complications, such as bacterial infection or parasites, can be detected and treated.
- A skin scraping may be required to look for mites or other parasites that can cause signs similar to allergies.
- Blood work may be required to rule out other conditions that cause skin problems such as thyroid disease.
- In some cases a referral to a specialist may be recommended so that further testing and a more specific treatment can be performed.
- Pets have a tolerance for allergens. When enough allergens are present the pet will start to show signs. Until that point is reached the pet will not show signs. We cannot always eliminate everything your pet is allergic to. By eliminating what we can, such as fleas and food allergens, we can dramatically decrease the signs even if the pet is still exposed to other allergens (see above figure).
- Consistent monthly flea control, even in winter, is recommended for all pets with allergies.
- Fatty acid supplements are designed to improve skin and coat health resulting in a greater tolerance to allergies. Fatty acids have also been shown to improve joint health and brain function.
- Antihistamines may be prescribed intermittently to deal with acute episodes.
- Special therapeutic shampoos may be required to treat secondary infections, relieve itch or improve skin health.
- A special hypoallergenic diet may be necessary for some pets.
- The most frequent food allergies pets have are to beef, milk products, and corn.
- It is extremely important that pets on special diets not receive any treats, table scraps, or other petís food, as these could trigger another allergic episode. Hypoallergenic treats are available.
- A pet on a hypoallergenic diet may not improve for 6-8 weeks.
- Once a pet is doing well, in 2-3 months, a single treat or food item may be introduced to determine if it triggers an allergic reaction.
- Steroids are very hard on the body and have numerous side affects including increased urination, weight gain, increased susceptibility to infection, and liver disease.
- They may be used on occasion to relieve a severe allergic reaction.
- They are not recommended for long term use and do not treat the allergic condition. Steroids only improve the symptoms.
- This is an oral pill designed to increase the petís tolerance to allergens.
- This pill issued for several months and the amount is decreased over time.
- Some pets may be able to discontinue taking the pill after several months to a year of use and not suffer from allergies, other pets may need to take the pill 2-3 times a week for life.
- This is an expensive treatment, but has few side affects and has proven more affective then allergy shots in some patients.
Allergy Testing and Allergy Injections:
- There are several types of allergy testing.
- A skin specialist will be able to recommend when these options should be considered for your pet.