Allergies…the seasonal nuisance for your pet.
With springtime getting closer, promising longer days, leaves on the trees and flowers blooming you can rest assured that, for some pets, it will also promise something else…..allergies. Just like their humans, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies too, but we can help.
Many of the signs of allergies in pets are similar to what humans suffer – itching and skin changes such as redness or a rash. But did you know that hair loss, changes in the fur coat, ear infections and anal gland issues can also be signs of allergies?
The causes of allergies are the same as in humans – food (ingredients, preservatives); contact (bedding, carpet or chemicals that touch the skin); inhalant (pollen, dust, spores, dander – this is most common cause of skin symptoms).
So, what can we do to keep our four legged family members comfortable throughout the seasonal allergies? Well, there are several things we can do, some are more obvious such as removing the source of the allergic reaction – bedding, changing their food and treats to a hypoallergenic diet.
In addition, adding Omega 3 FA has two major benefits, providing anti-inflammatory relief and the oil improves skin and coat quality.
Some dogs will get mild relief from itching with anti-histamines, such as Benadryl. Regular baths with Oatmeal/Aloe shampoos can also help with itching, as well as skin issues.
Sometimes secondary bacterial skin infections can occur with allergies and antibiotics can be used to control these.
Many allergy dogs also have problems with chronic ear infections. Keep the ears thoroughly cleaned with a good maintenance program and immediately treat any infections that arise.
Keep your pet on a cotton surface, cover their sleeping area with cotton and put a cotton shirt on them when outside.
Giving your pet antioxidants to help repair the oxidative damage to the skin cells in the allergic dog.
Probiotics. The GI tract contains the largest collection of immune cells in the body. Probiotics help to improve the GI barrier.
In the event that nothing else helps, there are medications that we can give to help alleviate the symptoms:
Apoquel for dogs over 12 months of age. This oral medication is for rapid relief from itching with fewer side effects than other medications. Initially, this is given twice daily for the first two weeks then reduced to once daily.
Cytopoint is used for environmental allergies. This medication has a very high safety margin with low immunogenicity.
Steroids – With a severe flare we may administer a steroid injection to give rapid relief of the allergic response. In some patients which have uncontollable and sever allergies, we may resort to oral steroids on a reducing dose schedule, but steroids have lots of side effects.
Allergy Testing – The purpose of allergy testing is to determine exactly what the pet is reacting to and to start the pet on a hyposensitization (allergy shots) treatment program based on the individuals specific allergies.
Bug bites and Bee stings – while these may not always cause an allergic reaction, for some dogs a bee sting can cause anaphylactic shock and is an emergency. Within the first 30 minutes after a sting, watch for a reaction such as swelling at the sting site, vomiting, pale gums, significant drooling, agitation. If any of these symptoms occur, head to an emergency vet. If your dog has been stung before and you know they will have a reaction, don’t wait – head to your veterinarian.
Even if your pet does not have an allergic reaction, they may still have some discomfort, which can be alleviated with cold compresses applied to the sting site to reduce inflammation.
You should always check with your veterinarian before giving any over the counter medication to your pet.