Animals just like people, can suffer allergic reactions to a wide variety of environmental substances, or allergens. Some allergens are seasonal, such as grass, tree and weed pollens. Allergens causing year-round symptoms include foods, molds, dust mites, insects and other materials found in the home environment….even people!
What are common allergic symptoms in pets?
Dermatitis (skin irritation) is the most common symptoms with inhalant allergies. This includes intense itching and scratching, feet licking and chewing, face rubbing and hair loss, which often leads to secondary infection.Cats with allergies will excessively groom themselves, causing hair loss. Some cats may display even more intense irritations such as feline acne, respiratory conditions (asthma, sneezing, nasal discharge, and watery eyes), gastritis, vomiting and diarrhea.
Your pet can be allergic to foods.
Dogs and cats can both suffer from food allergies. In fact, food allergy is the most likely cause of allergic symptoms in animals less than 1 year of age. Food allergies commonly cause ear inflammation, excessive feet licking, skin problems, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies can be to any food, even if your pet has been on the same food for years.
The best way to diagnose food allergies is to do a diet trial. This is where your pet is fed a prescription diet (over the counter diets are NOT sufficient as often all the foods are made in the same facility) for an 8-10 week time period. If your pet has food allergies, by the end of the diet trial, there typically is a remarkable difference in their skin and itchiness. To find out more about diet trials, set up an appointment.
How can you test your pet for allergies?
Call to schedule an appointment and we will discuss your pet’s clinical history and environmental surroundings with you. After excluding other possible causes for your pet’s symptoms, we may run a simple blood test, through Idexx, that checks for antibodies to common allergens in our area. We may also decide to do a diet trial.
What is the Idexx Allergen Test?
It is a comprehensive plan designed to identify and treat allergies in your pet. This test is accurate, reliable, and offers many advantages for pets and owners alike. We will draw a small amount of blood from your pet and send it to Idexx. The best time to run the test is when your pet’s allergies are at their worst. Your pet’s serum will be tested for sensitivity to a panel of grass, tree and weed allergens specific to your geographic region, as well as to other important allergens such as dust mite, mold and cat dander. The test can even be done on pets being treated with antihistamines or steroids.
Based on your pet’s results, we can help manage your pet’s treatment.
What are options for treating your pet’s allergies?
The best form of treatment for any allergy is avoidance of the offending substance; however this is not always possible. Steroid and antihistamines are successful short term solutions, but prolonged use of these drugs can have serious side effects.
Immunotherapy (allergy injections or oral drops) is the prevailing method of treatment for allergic reactions to airborne allergens in pets.
How does Immunotherapy Work?
Based on the result of the Idexx test, The Dr. and Idexx will design and prepare an allergy treatment kit which specifically targets your pet’s allergies. When administered according to the prescribed schedule, this treatment works to neutralize the allergic reactions that cause your pet to suffer. Immunotherapy is an effective, long term treatment that gradually builds your pet’s immunity to the specific allergens that are causing your pet’s discomfort. Injections with increasing amounts of antigens are given to the animal, beginning with a low dose and increasing until the highest tolerable concentration is reached.There is no cure for allergies, but they can be managed. With careful attention and dedication, immunotherapy can be a highly effective treatment for your pet’s allergies
What happens if you don’t treat your pet’s allergies?
Allergies that go untreated will worsen over time, as IgE antibody levels rise in the blood in response to your pet’s continued exposure to environmental or other allergens. Animals with itchy skin will lick, chew and scratch themselves excessively, causing mild skin rashes to intensify, often leading to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. Left untreated, your pet’s symptoms will continue to worsen as your pet ages.