What is an allergy?
These substances that cause allergies are called allergens. Though many are just unpleasant, some are serious and a few can be fatal. Allergic reactions may be caused by consuming, inhaling, or touching the allergen.
Signs of allergies
The most common signs of allergies in your pets are scratching, face rubbing, and biting or chewing at the skin. The most common places on the body for signs are the side, feet, face, around the eyes, mouth, and ears; as well as, around the base of the tail. In dogs, allergies are often the underlying cause of continual skin disease; however, not all scratching is caused by allergies. Conditions such as thyroid disease, fleas, and particular infections, such as ringworm can cause comparable signs.
When are allergies most likely to occur?
Allergies occur whenever the offending allergen is present. More common allergens, such as house dust, mites or mold spores, will produce signs year-round. Whereas allergies from plants that pollinate during warmer months are subject to cause allergies only when they pollinate. Food allergies may occur by itself or it may be part of an overall allergy problem.
Can allergies be prevented?
There is no absolute way to prevent allergies since they are inherited. It is generally accepted that allergies can be controlled but not prevented. The best control is achieved through avoidance of the allergen. However unavoidable allergens such as molds and mites, require an alternate treatment.
How do I know if my pet has allergies?
Unfortunately, there are no specific signs for allergy so you need to rely on us to determine if it is an allergy. Allergy diagnosis requires the elimination of other causes for your pet’s clinical signs. This involves taking a detailed history of your pet’s problems, a complete physical exam and preliminary laboratory tests. If these suggest that an allergy is likely, we may advise allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis.
How are allergies treated?
There are several different ways or combinations of ways to treat allergies. If the allergy is mild, control may be reached through the use of methods to avoid contact with the allergen and medications to control the clinical signs. In severe allergies or in pets where the allergies occur year-round, specific allergy treatments such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be needed. Immunotherapy is often recommended because prolonged use of certain medication, especially steroids, reduces itching but produce serious side effects that could reduce the quality or length of your pet’s life. Various other treatments are available and we will discuss them based on your pet's needs.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a medical treatment where allergens (pollens, dust, molds, mites, insects, and fibers) to which your pet is allergic are injected in increasing amounts and concentrations. By injecting allergens in this fashion, the majority of pets experience changes in their immune system and become less sensitive to these allergens. This is the safest way to control the clinical signs of allergy in your pet. Unlike corticosteroids, immunotherapy actually helps your pet’s own immune system control the symptoms of allergies.
How are the immunotherapy injections given?
Immunotherapy injections should be given under our guidance. Immunotherapy injections are given with a small needle beneath the skin. The majority of pets do not object to this.
How successful is the treatment?
The success of treatment depends on the overall health of your pet, the severity of the allergies, and a commitment to therapy. Generally, the steps to successful allergy treatment involve: trying to avoid or reduce the allergens in the environment, giving recommended medications to control symptoms, and identifying the specific allergens causing the clinical signs or symptoms in your pet, followed by therapy. The combination of these therapies will result in successful allergy treatment in the majority of pets.