Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Allergies

Like us, our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. Their symptoms however are different from ours. Pets tend to not have the sneezing, congestion and runny eyes that we do.  Their skin is a more common target for seasonal allergies.

Allergy symptoms
Symptoms include chewing on paws or other reachable body parts; scratching excessively; recurring ear infections; hair loss, and raw and inflamed skin.
Common allergy triggers are food and the environment. A surprising number of pets have flea bite allergies. It is important to treat any pet with allergy symptoms for fleas.  It does not take a flea infestation for an allergic pet to have a problem with fleas. Because of their bodies exaggerated response just one small bite from one flea can cause a severe reaction.  Often pet owners do not report seeing fleas, but it is important to treat anyway.
Our animal companions can develop allergies to house dust mites, pollens, molds, grasses and food. Allergies may start out as seasonal — such as a reaction to pollen during the spring — but can get worse over time so that they may become year-round.
Treatment begins with clearing up any secondary skin or ear infection.  Medications that decrease inflammation are helpful. I often recommend essential fatty acid supplements and medicated shampoos. If the symptoms persist or become severe a hypo-allergy diet trial is tried. It is possible to test for environmental allergies and treat with desensitization injections.  
Pixie Belle is one of my patients with severe allergies. She was found to be allergic to weeds (Lamb’s Quarter, Yellow Dock and Pigweed), grasses and molds. For these allergies she takes a hyposenitization shot once every 3 weeks. This plus putting her on a hypo-allergy diet of duck and green peas has helped her remain itch free year round!

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