Understanding, Preventing and Treating Your Pet’s Allergies

A golden dog laying on the floor

When we think of human allergies, sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion typically come to mind. As for a pet’s allergies, however, the symptoms are usually a bit different. While pets are just as sensitive to the same allergens we are – including dust, pollen, mold, and grass – their symptoms tend to manifest as skin issues.

It’s not always straightforward, but the more you know about your pet’s triggers the more you’ll be able to provide them with comforting measures.

Breaking It Down

When animals are exposed to something they’re sensitive to, their immune system launches an attack.

In an attempt to protect the body from the allergen, the immune system produces antibodies that release histamines into the bloodstream. These manifest on the skin, in the eyes, ears, nose or throat, and in the GI tract, causing some obvious reactions.

Types of Allergies

Some pets are born hypersensitive to triggers, others will develop allergies as they age. Before we can treat a pet’s allergies, we must figure out what they’re allergic to. 

  • Food – It is not uncommon for pets to show allergic reactions to food ingredients such as wheat, soy, corn, certain meats, and even medications. To treat food allergies, isolating potential triggers and eliminating them for the diet is necessary. 
  • Environmental – A pet can come into contact with various triggers in their environment including smoke, dander, pollen, mold/mildew, perfumes, cleaning agents, shampoos, lotions, fabrics, and hard surfaces made of rubber or plastic. Cleaning their bedding weekly, as well as using only pet-friendly cleaning products can help. Vacuuming and air purifiers can reduce triggers at home, 
  • Flea – Many pets are allergic to the antigens and proteins in flea saliva and suffer from extreme itchiness. Flea allergy dermatitis can lead to open sores, scabbing, hair loss, and secondary skin infections. There are many reasons for year round parasite prevention, and flea allergy dermatitis is one of them.

Understanding Your Pet’s Allergies

Pet owners may notice that their pet is excessively scratching themselves, rubbing against furniture or carpeting, head shaking, and biting at their skin. This can cause a great deal of unrest and anxiety. 

A full physical exam is necessary to prevent further damage caused by a pet’s allergies. Skin scraping or allergen tests are important diagnostics to measure the presence of abnormal cells, bacterial infections, parasites, and yeasts. 

A blood sample can reveal many different types of skin allergies. 

Sweet Relief

Depending on what we learn from diagnostic tests, your pet may be treated with oral medications, short-term steroids, allergy shots, antibiotics, antifungals, or specially-formulated shampoos. 

Eliminating certain ingredients from their diet can go a long way toward treating your pet’s allergies, and reducing what they’re triggered by in their environment will help, too.

Brighter Days Ahead

Dealing with your pet’s allergies isn’t fun, but when you get to the bottom of terrible symptoms you are helping them find some comfort and relief

Please contact us at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. Our veterinarians are always here for your pet!