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Itching to Learn More About Allergies

Oct 05, 2015

The summer months as well as fall and spring when the pollen counts are high tend to bring on the worst allergies in people as well as their pets.Dogs and cats frequently suffer from allergies, just like people, but their symptoms are typically different. While people tend to develop red itchy eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose pets typically develop skin problems. Signs of pet allergies may consist of recurrent skin or ear infections, foot licking, chronic itchiness, hair loss, scabs or pustules, red skin, and can be similar to people with runny eyes. Animals typically develop allergies with age and those with allergies tend to get worse with age. It does not matter if they have been around something their whole life, they can still develop an allergy to it.

Allergies in pets can be broken down into 3 main categories: fleas, food, or the environment.

Flea allergies are best treated by diligent flea prevention including treatment of the pet, house, and yard. The University of Kentucky has published a useful article for ridding your home of fleas. Follow the link for some helpful tips.

Food and environmental allergies can be more difficult to manage. Dogs and cats with food allergies are typically allergic to the protein source in the food, but can be allergic to other components as well. Unfortunately, over-the-counter diets that aim to be free of specific ingredients, let’s say chicken, are made in the same factories that make and package chicken diets. This means that while the diet does not have chicken listed in the ingredients, it may contain trace amounts of chicken, which is enough to cause an allergic reaction in animals sensitive to it. Prescription diets are made on dedicated lines that have not been used to manufacture other diets or they are carefully cleaned to ensure trace contamination does not occur. Unfortunately, this does make prescription diets more expensive. The goal of most prescription diets is to either use a novel protein (one in which the animal has never been exposed to) or a hydrolyzed protein (the protein is broken down to the point that the body no longer recognizes it as an allergen, but the body still gains the important nutrients it needs).

Environmental allergies are usually the hardest and most frustrating to manage because unlike food and fleas it is generally very difficult to remove the allergens from the environment as well as identify the exact allergens that are causing a problem. Skin and blood testing is available to help diagnose some of the causing allergens and develop allergy shots. Environmental allergies are typically managed medically with different combinations of medications. The best choice for medications will vary between patients.

The key thing to remember is that allergies are managed not cured and can be frustrating at times for the pet and pet owner.

Always consult a veterinarian concerning treatment of your pet for any illness, including allergies!!


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