Why the Word Allergy Makes Your Veterinarian Cringe

I bet you thought the words was “anal glands”, maybe “diarrhea”, “vomit” or maybe even “pus”. Nope. It is allergies. Why? Read on to find out the Four Reasons Why.

First of all, what is an allergy?

An allergy is a damaging immune response of the body to a substance which it is has become hypersensitive to.

What causes allergies?

FIRST REASON:

Your pet can be allergic to anything: pollen, fleas, grass, house dust mites, weeds, mildew, your cat, and even his own food. No, it doesn’t matter that he has been eating that same food his whole life. He can still develop an allergy to an ingredient in it.

How do I know my pet has allergies?

SECOND REASON:

Allergies can present in numerous ways. It can be runny eyes, sneezing, or face rubbing. It can also be more severe causing hives, welts, swollen face or the inability to breathe. But it can also run middle of the road with chronic ear infections, chronic infections between the toes, persistent foot licking, generalized itching and, yes, even doing the carpet scooting boogie.

Does your pet have any of the above symptoms? Then your pet could have allergies.

In order to diagnose allergies, other things must be ruled out. Does you pet have an autoimmune disease, a metabolic disorder, not properly groomed, or do you leave a wet collar on after swimming? Any of those things could present as a skin disorder and itching, but it may not be allergies. The best way to know if your pet has allergies is to discuss what is happening with your veterinarian. There are things they can do to help determine if it is allergy related like:

  • Blood tests for inhalant and environmental allergen
  • Food trials (and, no, a grain-free diet is not a food trial) to determine if your pet has allergies.

How are allergies in pets treated?

THIRD REASON:

There is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. There are numerous ways allergies can be treated. The treatment will depend upon the severity of the allergy and a collaborative discussion between you and your veterinarian on side effects, costs, and your ability to treat your pet.

  1. Simple allergies can be treated with over the counter antihistamines as directed by your veterinarian.
  2. More complex or severe allergies may require prescription pills or monthly injections. This treatment, until several years ago, was not available and has become a game changer to the allergy world providing pets with much needed relief.
  3. If your pet has a food allergy, then a special diet will be required.
  4. Lastly, there is the tried and true method of immunotherapy injections. These injections are specifically formulated to your pet’s individual allergens to build up their immune system as to not react as violently to the allergen when it is presented. It is along the same lines as humans who get allergy injections to desensitize their bodies.

Can allergies be cured?

FOURTH REASON:

Pet owners may have unrealistic expectations about allergies. Allergies are not something you cure! Please re-read that previous sentence. With the exception of sometimes immunotherapy over numerous years, allergies are not cured but managed. The goal is to have fewer and less severe reactions over the life of your pet. There are times where pollen count of your pet’s allergen may be higher than typical causing your pet to have a break through attack and to start scratching possibly developing a sore or secondary bacterial infection which then must be treated. There are some pets who do great on allergy management and never have a break through or problem. This doesn’t mean you stop treatment and when they start scratching again say “Well I stopped because they were cured but now there scratching again so it didn’t work.” Allergies require life long management.

 

Though pet allergies are difficult to pinpoint, the treatment of allergies has come a long way in the past years. It is important to be mindful of the symptoms and understand that the treatment might be lifelong and managed with medication or a special diet. Your veterinarian may cringe at the word, “allergy” due to its complexity and it being difficult to pinpoint, but they are the best to help identify a plan to help your pet thrive.

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