Allergies among pets are fairly similar to human allergies and can be described as an abnormal sensitivity when exposed to particular elements. There may be some breed susceptibility, it is believed that allergies can be genetically inherited. Most pets start to show signs of an allergy around the age of 1 to 4 years old.
Common allergens for pets include mold, dust, dust mites, fleas, tree pollens, weed pollens, grass pollens, feathers, wool, some cleaning products, and various food ingredients.
How are specific allergies determined?
History and examination of your pet forms the basis for suspicion of allergy. Testing such as skin scraping and cultures can rule out other issues. Response to therapy specific for allergy also typically confirms allergic origin. There are tests that can help determine specific allergies in pets, including:
Skin Allergy blood test - This is a blood test to measure whether your dog is allergic to certain antigens. This can be done in our office, and only requires that your pet not be any any allergy medications such as steroids or apoquel.
Skin allergy panel – This test is done by a dermatologist and may require your pet to be sedated. During the test, the veterinarian will shave off a small section of your pet’s hair and will draw a grid directly on their skin. The vet will then inject common known allergens alongside control variables to determine which allergens the pet is allergic to.
Food trials – Food trials are simply the process of trying out different pet foods to alleviate a food allergy. We will prescribe a prescription hypoallergenic food that is either a hydrolysed micro-protein base, or a novel protein base. It is critical during this 6-8 wk feeding trial that your dog not eat anything thing else, including flavored medications and bones.
Symptoms of allergies in pets:
Treating pets with allergies
Depending on the allergy, there are many methods of treatment available that can help alleviate the agony of allergies. To help give relief at home, you can regularly shampoo your pet to help reduce itchiness and remove any pollens, bacteria from the skin. Also consider wiping paws every time they have been outdoors. Be cautious with plants inside your home which may cause allergic reactions. Do your best to keep your house free from dust and other airborne allergens. We might recommend over-the-counter antihistamines initially, although these help only with mild allergy symptoms.
After positively diagnosing your pet with a specific allergy, the veterinarian can recommend a more specific treatment for their particular case.