Did you know that approximately 1 out of 10 pets suffer from allergies?
The symptoms, however, are not quite the same as in humans. The most
common sign of allergy in dogs and cats is itching, manifested by
scratching, rubbing, licking, and chewing. In some cases, vomiting and
diarrhea may be present. In many cases, cats will develop skin lesions
without associated itching.
Allergy is an inherited disease that is the result of the immune system
abnormally reacting to certain common substances in the environment. These
substances are called allergens and are usually pollens of weeds, trees
and grasses, house dust, insects, human and animal dander, molds, and
chemicals. The allergic dog or cat makes a special type of antibodies
called immunoglobulin E (IgE antibodies) against these substances.
Whenever the pet comes in contact with these allergens, the IgE antibodies
attach themselves to them. When this happens, a series of chemical
reactions occur in the body that result in the release of mediators that
cause inflammation and itching.
While approximately 40% of skin irritation in dogs and cats are allergy
related, it must be emphasized that not all skin problems in pets are due
to allergies. This is why it is important that your pet's skin problem be
accurately diagnosed so that proper treatment can be administered.
Finding out what causes the allergies in a dog or cat requires some
careful detective work. There are several methods used to identify the
problem that may be occurring in your pet. These may include a skin test
or a more sensitive laboratory blood test.
While avoidance of the substance identified as causing the allergies in
your pet is the best form of treatment, it is not always practical. A
strict flea control program and removing foods positively identified
during the blood test from the diet can help control both flea and food
allergies. Allergies due to pollens, molds, dander, etc are almost
impossible to avoid. Drugs such as corticosteroids and antihistamines can
be valuable in temporarily relieving symptoms but the prolonged usage of
steroids can cause serious systemic side effects.
If you suspect your pet has allergies, please contact our office about
a consultation. This will allow us to determine the best possible
treatment for your pet.