Just like people, dogs and cats can have allergies. They can be allergic to both food and their environment. With food, they are most commonly allergic to the protein source. Since chicken is the most common protein source, that is the most common food allergy. They can develop allergies to food even after they have eaten the same thing for years. They can also be allergic to the environment. This includes both the outside environment- grass, plants blooming, trees, etc. and the inside environment like dust mites.
What Do Allergies Look Like In Dogs And Cats?
In people, allergies affect the respiratory system. We get a runny nose/ sneeze, watery eyes, and a general sense of discomfort. In dogs and cats, allergies affect the skin. They make them itchy- most commonly the feet, belly, and armpits. This weakens the skin barrier which can make them more susceptible to infections like ear infections, rashes on their bellies, or chin acne.
Paws to consider: Allergies can develop at any point in a pet’s life.
How Do Pets Get Tested For Allergies?
There is a lot of controversy on how to test for allergies. If you go to a dermatologist, they will perform what is called an intradermal test. This is when a small amount of the allergen is injected under the skin and they see how the animal reacts.
At VCPI we offer a blood test that tests the most common environmental and food allergies in the area. We also offer a saliva test that focuses on food sensitivities.
The last option is avoidance. This one really only works with foods. It can take 4-8 weeks of avoiding a food before you can determine if that food was the cause of the allergic response.
Can Allergies Be Treated?
Good news! There are a number of allergy treatment options available. Listed below are a few of the options we recommend and use at VCPI (not all of these are available for cats).
- Antronex– a whole food antihistamine
- Fish oils– help to improve the skin barrier and decrease inflammation
- Probiotics– healing the gut is an important step to improving the immune system and subsequently how the immune system reacts to allergens
- Immunotherapy Injections-this is called hypo-sensitization and consists of injections administered to your pet that contain the allergens they are allergic to increase tolerance to the allergens therefore decreasing symptoms over time
- Apoquel– an oral anti-itch and anti-inflammatory medication
- Cytopoint– an injectable anti-itch medication that lasts 4-6 weeks on average
- Medications shampoos or wipes
- Ear cleaners and medications
- Specially formulated sprays like our Fido & Felix Essential Oil Sprays
Paws to consider: It is important to work with your veterinarian to find the best treatment options for your pet.
If you think your pet may be suffering from allergies, please give us a call to schedule a consultation. We would love to discuss and develop a testing and treatment plan specifically for your pet to help them feel their best!
Look around our website or like us on Facebook to get more information!