Pet allergies 101
You’re probably well aware of the discomforts that come with allergies, whether they’re seasonal or situational. However, you might be surprised to learn that your favorite furry friend can suffer from allergies just like people do. Can you imagine being itchy and sneezing while covered in fur? Pets depend on their humans for a variety of needs, including treatment for conditions that affect their health or quality of life.
Allergy symptoms flare up when the immune system recognizes a contaminant as potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, even everyday household items can set off symptoms in particularly sensitive animals. There are several breeds of dogs that are especially prone to allergies, including Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, Boxers, Shepherds, Beagles, Pugs, and Bulldogs.
It’s important to find the cause of pet’s allergies since treatments that only mask the symptoms can lose their effectiveness over time. Allergies also tend to worsen as the animal ages, and certain allergy treatments are most effective for younger pets, so early intervention is critical. Untreated allergies may result in “hot spots” from excessive licking and scratching, along with secondary bacterial infections.
What is causing your pet’s allergies?
Allergens trigger a reaction in one of four ways:
- Skin contact
- Flea allergy dermatitis
The things that animals are allergic to share a lot in common with human allergies. Nearly anything can be a potential trigger, including pollen, molds, dust, dander, feathers, smoke, types of food, prescription/over-the-counter drugs, flea saliva, perfumes, cleaning products, and certain shampoos.
Getting a diagnosis of your pet’s allergies
Your vet will want to know what symptoms you have observed, so be sure to note any excessive scratching, runny eyes, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, unusual snoring, swollen paws, or paw chewing. Try to remember if you introduced anything new into your pet’s environment around the time their allergies started.
After a thorough exam, your vet will be able to decide if any additional tests are necessary. They may recommend a blood test, skin test, or elimination diet to identify what is causing your pet’s allergies. Please do not attempt an elimination diet without the guidance of a knowledgeable vet.
Treatment options for your cat or dog
After consulting with your vet and determining what is causing your pet’s allergies, you’ll be ready to start a treatment plan. Here are some of the most common remedies:
Immunotherapy: After the skin test, a series of shots are administered that gradually desensitize your pet’s system. It has a high success rate and takes 6-9 months to become effective.
Elimination Diet: Your pet is fed a strict prescription diet until their system is entirely clear of allergens. Food items are introduced one at a time to identify which item is an issue for your pet. After the diet is over, your vet will recommend a safe and well-balanced diet.
Antihistamines: These are given to relieve allergy symptoms. They’re not very effective, and your pet can build up a tolerance very quickly. Quercetin supplements can act as a natural antihistamine but shouldn’t be given to animals with kidney issues.
Steroids: In some cases, your vet may recommend suppressing your pet’s immune system to relieve their allergy symptoms. This option comes with increased risk, but it is important to consider if necessary for your pet’s quality of life.
Itch Relief: There are products are available to relieve severe itching, including fatty acid supplements and soothing sprays. Frequent baths or wipe-downs will help with most non-food allergies. If you don’t have time to give your dog a daily bath after their walk, please contact us—We provide grooming transportation services and work exclusively with our preferred groomer in Denver.
Final thoughts and preventative measures
Feed your pet a well-balanced diet—They need diversity and can develop sensitivities to eating the same food over an extended period of time. We recommend a raw or homemade diet over commercial food since you’ll be less likely to encounter common allergens and contaminants. Avoid over-vaccinating your pet, as this can lead to a hyperactive immune system and inflammation of allergy symptoms.
Addressing your pet’s allergies will give you and your four-legged friend a great peace of mind. Even though the road to recovery can be a bit of a journey, the look of gratitude in your pet’s eyes is guaranteed to make it all worthwhile.