Pets can have allergies just like us and may present them in ways that can cause discomfort. We want to help make sure our clients are armed with the knowledge to not only recognize when their pet may be dealing with an allergy but also how to properly address the issue and keep our four-legged friends happy and comfortable.
What kind of signs do pets show when they are suffering from allergies?
Typically in animals, allergies manifest in the form of itch. You may notice your pet shaking their head and rubbing their face on the ground as well as chewing their sides, legs and feet. If allergies become severe, your pet can cause irritated skin, lesions and hair loss by excessively chewing and scratching. Even though allergies and infections do not always come hand in hand, infection can be caused if the symptoms of itch are not addressed soon enough.
Do all pets who have allergies require treatment?
No. If your pet has enough itch to cause infection or affect their quality of life, that is when intervention is recommended. If your pet’s itch is low grade or temporary enough to not cause an interruption to their daily life, there is often no need to intervene.
Can pets be treated with antihistamines?
Histamine is a chemical released by inflammatory cells in the skin. In people histamine is the major cause of inflammation and itch with allergies. However, histamine is not the major chemical released in the skin of our allergic pets. For this reason it is rare for antihistamines to effectively treat our pet’s allergies.
Is there a cure for allergies?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies but they can be managed efficiently. The treatment for allergies differs on which type of allergies your pet is affected with.
What are the different types of allergies?
These allergens include but are not limited to plant pollens, dust mites, weeds, grasses and mold. Environmental allergies can be especially frustrating due to the fact that they are very difficult to isolate. During seasonal transitions it is very common for us to see a lot of itchy pets and spring and fall are the two most common allergy seasons. Blood and skin testing can be done to isolate allergens and based on those results an injectable serum can be custom made in an attempt to control itch and maintain comfort. Medications can also be used to manage environmental allergies and is the most commonly used method.
Some pets develop hypersensitivity to various ingredients that are very commonly found in commercially prepared diets. Food allergies are supported by the perception that the pet is consistently suffering from itch all year round. In this case, a food trial will be recommended to rule out whether it is in fact an ingredient in your pet’s diet that is the offending allergen. A food trial consists of transitioning your pet exclusively on to a hypoallergenic diet and offering them nothing but the prescribed food during the length of the trial. Although there are many diets in the pet store that claim to be hypoallergenic, it is important to pick a diet that contains no ingredients that your pet has ever been exposed to, only then will it truly be a hypoallergenic. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to confirm whether the change in food is going to be an efficient way to manage your pet’s allergies.
Allergies are among the most frustrating conditions to deal with and are very individual based on the patient. If you are concerned that your pet may be showing some of these signs or are interested in additional information, please let us know and we would be happy to have a conversation with you. At Streetsville Animal Hospital we are here to help and will work together with you to develop the best strategy to make sure your pet is living its happiest, most comfortable life!