Is your pet itchy? An overview of Pet Allergies

Pet Allergies 

Your pets can suffer from allergies just like you can! Allergies can be frustrating to pet owners- persistent scratching/chewing/licking can lead to skin infections, open sores, and discomfort for your pet. It's important to learn what is causing your pet’s discomfort by getting them the help they need from your veterinarian. 

 

Types of Allergies: 

Environmental allergy: 

  • Similar to humans, pets can experience allergies to inhalled pollens, house dust mites, molds and other environmental allergens. They tend to only affect your pets during the times of the year that have high allergy counts. Your pet may experience itchiness and redness of their skin, with secondary infections being common. These secondary infections must be addressed, of course, and your  veterinarian may discuss a variety of possible ways to manage the underlying allergy. Testing is available as well as several management options, such as Apoquel, Cytopoint, and desensitization drops. Steroids may have their place in the acute sense, but long-term or chronic use of steroids can lead to other problems for your pet.

Flea allergy:

  • There is a protein in flea saliva to which some dogs are allergic. That is why some dogs gets excessively itchy with exposure to a single flea bite, and others don’t seem to have the same dramatic response. This is potentially the most preventable allergy because we have several good flea medications available to combat the inciting cause.

Food allergy:

  • Some pets develop hypersensitivities to foods. There is currently no accurate blood or skin test to determine if your pet has a food allergy- the only way of diagnosing a food allergy is by placing your pet on a carefully selected prescription or homemade hypoallergenic diet for several weeks (called a food trial). If the itchiness resolves, a food challenge is performed by feeding the former diet and watching for a return of the itch. If this occurs, a diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.

 

Can allergies be cured?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies, and it is usually a life-long problem. Our goal is to manage allergies and improve the quality of life for both you and your pet. Together with your veterinarian, the underlying allergy can be diagnosed, and a specific, targeted treatment plan can be put into action.

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