Is your pet turning into an itchy, irritated mess this time of year? If so, you (and your pet) are not alone. Many pets will experience an increase in environmental allergen sensitivity this time of year with the sudden bloom in flowers, trees, and grasses. Some pets may even experience allergies year round depending on what they are allergic to.
Common Allergies in Pets
Dogs and cats are allergic to many of the same environmental items that humans are. Tree, weed and grass pollens, molds, fungi, dust mites and various insects are all common allergens in pets. Some allergens for pets that we may not often think of include orris root (a common additive in scented candles), kapok (a common filler in pet beds and couches) and sisal (a common component of natural rugs).
Various food ingredients can also be common allergens in pets. Despite popular belief, most pets are actually not allergic or sensitive to gluten and grains. It is far more common for pets to be allergic to the protein source in their food (think chicken, beef, eggs, or pork).
Common Symptoms of Allergies in Pets
Some symptoms of allergies are quite obvious in pets--itching, sneezing, watery or runny eyes, redness of the skin, and hair loss. Other symptoms may be less obvious or may be a shared symptom of other conditions--nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chronic ear or skin infections, coughing and reverse sneezing. Having your pet examined by one of our veterinarians will help you navigate these symptoms and work towards a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergies in Pets
Proper diagnosis of allergies starts with a physical exam done by one of our veterinarians. During that exam we may run some additional tests. These tests may include general wellness bloodwork, skin scrapings or cytologies, food trials or serum allergy testing.
Depending on the severity of symptoms and length of time your pet experiences symptoms during the year, there are many treatment options for allergies. One of the most effective treatments is allergy hyposensitization with allergy shots or sublingual drops. This treatment reduces your pet’s sensitivity to specific allergens that your pet is found to be allergic to on allergy testing. Other common treatments include antihistamines, steroids, medicated shampoos and hypoallergenic diets.
Navigating the world of pet allergies can be confusing and sometimes frustrating but we are here to help. If you have any questions please call us at the office at 410-956-4500 to set up a time to speak with or meet with one of our veterinarians. Also, don’t forget that May is our Allergy Testing Special--receive 10% off of all allergy testing panels and allergy serums or drops.