The trees are blooming, the birds are singing, the snow is FINALLY gone! But for some animals and people this also means the return of allergy season. Allergies can strike any pet and at any time. Most allergies affect animals over the age of 6 months with most not showing up until at least 1-2 years of age.
Unlike people who usually get the runny, itchy nose and eyes, dog allergies usually present as itchy skin with occasional sneezing or red/weepy eyes. A lot of owners hear their pet unable to rest from their itching all through the night and are not aware that their pet may be suffering from allergies. Common seasonal allergies can be pollens, molds, or dust.
Year round allergies may be linked to food or human or animal dander in the house or even a chronic medication. Pets can also react to various insect bites such as fleas and ticks. Keeping your pet on flea and tick prevention can help prevent these bugs from biting them. There is a variety of things to help relieve the symptoms of allergies from shampoos or antihistamines, to allergy injections. The first step towards getting your pet relief would be to visit your Veterinarian.
The most common food allergies in our pets are chicken, beef, dairy, and egg with the inclusion of fish for our feline friends. Grain or gluten is actually a very rare allergy in our pets and has only been truly found in 1 or 2 breeds of dog and never documented in cats. If a food allergy is suspected the best method of diagnosing and treatment is a food trial.
Your veterinarian will have you feed a specific diet that contains no allergens for 8-12 weeks. It takes at least 8 weeks for all the potential allergens in the previous diet to be eliminated from the body. If they improve on the diet then you add back in allergens one at a time to see which one causes a flare. If one specific ingredient is identified as the allergen then that ingredient can be avoided going forward. Since several pet food companies may use the same processing plant, cross contamination of food can result in trace amounts of ingredients contained in the kibble that is not on the label; similarly, on human food labels it is common to see warnings about foods processed in a factory that contains nuts or soy.
Overall allergies in our pets is a very confusing topic but if your pet seems to be very itchy as evidenced by scratching, licking or chewing at themselves -especially to the point of keeping everyone up at night, or seems to have red/weepy eyes and frequent sneezing, the best thing would be to see your regular Veterinarian. They can work with you to see what steps can be taken to find some relief for everyone involved.
Article written by: Heather