Itching, Licking, and Sneezing – oh my!
An overview of pet allergies.
Based on an article that first appeared at Lonestar Animal Hospital
Your pets can suffer from allergies just like you can! Allergies can be frustrating to pet owners: persistent scratching, chewing, or 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
Similar to humans, pets can experience allergies to inhaled 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 medication management options, such as Apoquel, Cytopoint, and desensitization drops. Steroids may have their place in the acute (or immediate) sense, but long-term or chronic use of steroids can lead to other problems for your pet.
There is a protein in flea saliva to which some dogs are allergic. That is why some dogs get 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.
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 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.
This food trial is carefully developed, and it requires careful monitoring and tracking. Even treats have to be selected with your veterinary team. Diligence is vital to get the best results for your pet!
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, reduce discomfort, and improve the quality of life for both you and your dog or cat. Together with your veterinarian, the underlying allergy can be diagnosed, and a specific, targeted treatment plan can be put into action.
If you have questions about allergies in your dog or cat, please reach out to us!