Just as a human can develop allergies, pets can have health-damaging symptoms from exposure to fleas, environmental and food allergens. Allergens can be inhaled, ingested, or come in contact with the skin of a pet, causing a variety of digestive, respiratory, or dermal symptoms. Fortunately, there are reliable test methods to accurately diagnose and treat allergies in pets. Potential solutions include pet medication and hypoallergenic diets.
Diagnosing pet allergies
The allergens and the reactions they cause can differ from animal to animal. Reactions to food allergens are rare, affecting less than 10% of dogs or cats. Environmental allergens include those found indoors, such as mites and mold spores, and outdoors, such as pollen spores and grass. Animals can also be exceptionally susceptible to flea bites. Even a small amount of flea saliva can cause widespread irritation on the animal.
Pets can have a number of symptoms that may indicate an allergic reaction, including:
• Sneezing, coughing or wheezing
• Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
• Swollen paws or chewing paws
• Itchy ears or ear infections
• Itchy tailback or base
Some of these symptoms, although common allergic reactions, may also be indicative of other health problems. Before an animal is tested for allergies, they must be assessed by a licensed veterinarian. Once the veterinarian has determined that the animal is suffering from exposure to allergens, he can administer a sufficient allergy test.
Pet allergy medication
Medicines for human use, such as over-the-counter antihistamines, should never be administered to a pet unless directed to do so by a licensed veterinarian. These drugs can cause side effects to pets if they are taken alone or mixed with another drug. Extreme drowsiness, seizures or other symptoms may occur.
Pet medications will be prescribed based on individual symptoms. The severity of the symptoms and any pre-existing conditions the animal may have. With regard to food allergies, the animal may be subjected to a special diet which limits or eliminates the reactive ingredient. Medications, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots, may be prescribed to manage other allergies. For skin reactions, topical medications such as shampoos or creams may also be prescribed.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for pet allergies. However, there are treatment methods, including pet medication, that can successfully manage the symptoms and allow the pet to enjoy a better quality of life. A licensed veterinarian can accurately diagnose and properly treat allergies to pets.