Allergies among pets are fairly similar to human allergies and can be described as an abnormal sensitivity when exposed to particular elements. While there is no breed susceptibility, it is believed that allergies can be genetically inherited. Most pets start to show signs of an allergy around the age of 1 to 4 years old.
If you think your pet is exhibiting the signs of an allergy or you have questions about pet allergens, please contact our office.
Common allergens for pets:
How are specific allergies determined?
There are numerous tests that can help determine specific allergies in pets. The following two exams are the methods commonly implemented to test pets for allergies. If a more involved diagnosis is required for your pet’s particular condition, we will make additional arrangements.
Skin allergy panel (Usually performed on a referral basis by a Veterinary Dermatologist)– This test usually requires your pet to be sedated. During the test, the veterinarian will shave off a small section of your pet’s hair and will draw a grid directly on their skin. The vet will then inject common known allergens alongside control variables to determine which injections (allergens) the pet is allergic to.
Food trials – Food trials are simply the process of trying out different pet foods to alleviate a food allergy. The veterinarian will work with you to test various types of food (natural, organic, with or without by-product, gluten-free, etc.) and various proteins (beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, etc.) to determine which food works best for your pet. Each food’s trial period will last around 6 weeks and will require close observation and recording at home to be sure that the allergy is still present, or to determine if it has been relieved. While performing an elimination diet trial, it is vitally important that your pet not be fed any other diet than the one under investigation. That means no additional treats, including oral heartworm and sometimes oral flea and tick preventions, or table scraps.
Symptoms of allergies in pets:
Treating pets with allergies
Depending on the allergy, there are several methods of treatment that can help alleviate the agony of allergies. More generic forms of relief include regularly shampooing your pet to reduce itchiness and remove any bacteria and scabs. Also consider washing and rinsing paws with a cool bath any time they seem to be suffering. For minor focal issues, the veterinarian might recommend applying steroid cream or spray to the affected area, but it should be used sparingly and only under the veterinarian’s supervision. Also, consider over-the-counter antihistamines, like Benadryl or Zyrtec (NOT Zyrtec-D), but only administer medication under veterinary supervision to ensure dosage is appropriate for your pet’s size. There are also prescription medications available for more severe, chronic cases such as oral steroids, cyclosporine, Apoquel® (oclacitinib), or injectable once monthly to every other month CytoPoint® (monoclonal antibody therapy)
For indoor pets suffering from allergies, try removing the plants from inside your home. If you prefer to keep plants, prevent mold growth by covering the soil with activated charcoal bits, which you can purchase from an aquarium supply store. Also be sure to keep your house free from dust and other airborne allergens.
After positively diagnosing your pet with a specific allergy, the veterinarian can recommend a more detailed treatment for their particular case.
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