The signs and treatments for pets dealing with allergies
(KUSI) – Pets can be affected by allergies just similar to humans and it is important to know the symptoms and how to handle any issues your pet might have.
Dr. Angela Gaeto from Helen Woodward Animal Center said the most common types of allergies fit into two broad categories.
Types of Allergies:
The categories include food allergies and environmental allergies. Many patients experience some level of allergies from both categories, but not always. Environmental allergies cover a wide variety of things from plant and tree pollens to dander from other animals and people. Environmental allergies cover another very common allergy for pets, flea allergies. Dogs and cats with flea allergies can have serious itching reactions from just a single flea bite. The effects of one bite can linger for several days causing a cascade of itching and potentially self-inflicted wounds from excessive scratching.
Manifestations of Allergies:
Allergies can have a wide variety of symptoms in pets. This variety of symptoms has to do with the severity of the allergy, the type of allergy, and the pet’s reaction to it. Minor symptoms include things like swollen or red eyes, mild, clear eye or nose discharge, or mild scratching. More severe symptoms include scratching at a specific area on the body until it becomes red, oozy and irritated. The colloquial term for these is “hot spots”. The most common symptom for allergies is itching. This can range from minor itching with no signs of trauma to the skin to large areas of redness and skin flaking or scabbing. Due to the compromise of the skin barrier from allergies many animals develop secondary bacterial or yeast infections that must be treated along with the allergies to ensure relief for your pet.
Treatments for Allergies:
Treatment for allergic dogs and cats depends greatly on what types of allergies affect them and to what degree of severity. The most important aspect of treating allergies is to treat with specificity for each pet. Pets with minor symptoms may do well with only antihistamines. Antihistamines are drugs like Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claratin. There are also prescription antihistamines designed for pets. Other treatments for animals with minor allergic symptoms include mild soothing shampoos such as ones that contain Aloe or Oatmeal. Pets that have developed “hot spots” from scratching in one specific area will need to be treated for any infections that they have. A big part of that treatment also involves preventing them from scratching at the area. Often the most effective way to do that is with a cone. However if you see your pet developing this issue and don’t have a cone on hand you can always cover it with a t-shirt to prevent licking and scratching. Pets with more severe allergies may need treatments such as targeted immunotherapy which means allergy injections. Other options include more long term medications to reduce allergy symptoms such as itching.