Many pets, like people, suffer from allergies in spring and summer, but the signs in pets are different and more difficult to diagnose and treat. Pets can suffer with seasonal allergies that create flares when mold and pollen counts are high. Fleas, which also enjoy warmer temperatures, can wreak havoc in allergic pets with one bite. Pets suffer with food and environmental allergies as well, but less commonly. Learn how to determine if your pet is showing signs of an allergic reaction.
Signs of allergies in pets
Pets may exhibit the classic allergy signs—sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose—but they are more likely to show skin issues. If your pet is an allergy sufferer, you may notice these signs:
- Red, inflamed skin
- Ear infections
- Licking or chewing at paws
- Red spots or pustules on the skin
- Hot spots
- Hair loss
- Skin or ear odor
- Head shaking
- Change in ear position or movement
- Swollen paws
Pets with food allergies may also exhibit gastrointestinal signs, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive gas.
Diagnosing allergies in pets
Accurately diagnosing your pet’s allergen triggers can be a lengthy, intensive process. At our clinic, we will first perform an allergy evaluation with a thorough physical examination and complete medical history. We will check for irritated skin, ear or skin infections, and evidence of parasites, such as fleas or mange mites. We will ask about your pet’s food, preventive products, and lifestyle. When dealing with a pet’s allergies, we always recommend that you keep a journal of her flares, symptoms, and discomfort level. You should take note of the time of year you notice your pet’s allergy signs, because some pets suffer year-round, while others experience only seasonal flares.
To determine the cause of your pet’s allergies, we often recommend serum testing, one of the most accurate methods for correct diagnosis of allergy triggers in pets. Serum testing requires taking a small sample of your pet’s blood that we send to an outside laboratory to test for IgE antibodies. Elevated levels of these antibodies indicate an allergen response. Allergy testing allows us to determine what causes your pet’s reaction and to develop the appropriate course of treatment.
Treating allergies in pets
Allergy treatment in pets often requires lifelong management. As your pet ages, her allergy triggers may change, leading to frustrating flares even though her allergies were previously well-managed. To keep your pet comfortable and itch-free, we often implement a multi-modal attack, and may recommend the following innovative allergy relief products:
- Apoquel — Apoquel is a nonsteroidal, oral medication that targets specific cytokines (small proteins in the body) that cause itching and inflammation. Apoquel is not a steroid, so it does not suppress the entire immune system. Pet owners often complain about steroids’ side effects, such as excessive drinking and urination, but Apoquel has minimal side effects. Apoquel works quickly, providing relief in four hours and complete itch control in 24 hours. Apoquel’s benefits include its speed, minimal side effects, lack of interference with diagnostic testing, and the ability to begin and stop treatment with no weaning period.
- Cytopoint — Cytopoint is an innovative allergy treatment that offers four to eight weeks of relief with a single injection. Like Apoquel, Cytopoint targets and neutralizes a key itch-inducing cytokine and relief begins in as little as one day. Cytopoint has been proven safe for dogs of any age, does not appear to have any drug interactions, and does not burden the liver or kidneys, making it safe for allergic pets suffering from other diseases.
- Redonyl — Redonyl is a hypoallergenic nutraceutical used to support skin health. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a naturally occurring lipid compound and the active ingredient in Redonyl that is produced in response to tissue injury. When a dog’s skin is damaged, the body produces more than 30 times the normal amount of PEA to repair the skin. PEA reduces the amount of histamine released by mast cells, also decreasing the itch response.
- Immunotherapy — Immunotherapy is essentially the development of a vaccine that targets your pet’s specific allergies, based on your pet’s allergy serum test results. An allergen solution containing small parts of your pet’s specific allergens is developed, and the solution is added to a liquid diluent and injected under your pet’s skin to increase her allergen tolerance. The dose is gradually increased and the frequency decreased. Immunotherapy works well in severe, year-round allergy sufferers, but maximum results may not be achieved until a year after treatment begins.
If your pet is one of the many allergy sufferers, contact us to discuss how our pet allergy services can benefit your furry friend. Schedule an appointment to get your pet on the road to relief.