It’s allergy season! What can I do to help my pet?
Allergies have certainly become a lot more common over the past 20 years. There are several reasons why this has occurred, but luckily there are choices you can make to minimize your pet’s allergy symptoms. First, let’s discuss the three types of allergic responses. Allergies are categorized into contact allergies, inhalant allergies and food allergies.
First, let’s discuss contact allergies. This refers to a skin reaction when it comes into contact with the allergen. For example, some people and pets can have an allergy to wool when a wool blanket is used. When the wool contacts the skin it causes the skin to overreact and turn red and itchy. Luckily contact allergies are much less common in dogs and cats than in humans because their skin is protected from direct contact with the allergies by their hair/fur coat. This minimizes the amount of contact their skin has with the allergen. The most common contact allergies we tend to see in pets include the following: flame retardant products that are used on blankets/pillows/etc, commercial cleaning chemicals that are not natural based for flooring, commercial laundry soap and dryer sheets, commercial carpet cleaning products and synthetic pet beds. Simply removing all these items from your home will protect your pet, and your own health for that matter.
Second, we will address inhalant allergies. People think of this as “hay fever” since inhalant allergies actually cause respiratory signs in humans – hay fever. However, in pets, this is not the case. Inhalant allergies in pets actually causes itchy skin on their belly and their paws. Inhalant allergies include pollens (and other airborne allergens) and so these symptoms are worst in the spring and, even more so, in August and September. If your pet is licking at their paws right now, they most likely have inhalant allergies. This type of allergen is the hardest to treat since we don’t know exactly what allergen your pet is reacting to and can’t just remove it from the environment to solve the problem. Also, if it is pollen related, we obviously aren’t going to remove the pollens from the air around us. So, we never really say we have cured a patient with inhalant allergies, but rather, we look to minimize the reaction of the body to the allergen, thereby lessening the symptoms.
What can we do to treat allergies in pets?
Contact allergies can be treated by removing the allergen from the environment.
Inhalant allergies are treated with anti-histamines primarily. The histamine release in the skin is what causes the itchy feeling, so anti-histamines remove the histamine and therefore the itchy feeling is resolved.
Food allergies are the hardest to treat, since our food chain in America is so very flawed. Finding an allergy-free food choice is really hard to do – there just isn’t any such thing as the perfect diet for every individual body. So, it’s a matter of finding out which food your pet thrives on. This can take time and patience. Our goals for choosing a good food for an allergy dog/cat is actually the same as we have discussed in prior blogs for achieving a healthy pet. Those goals would include choosing a food with the following guidelines:
- No fillers of any kind – no grain, no legumes – just meat and veggies as our primary ingredients
- Unprocessed – a processed food is so hard for the body to digest. Allergy pets are already struggling with their digestion so make this process easier for them. Also, processed foods have things hidden in them that we cannot see.
- No Additives or Preservatives – no dyes or “natural flavor” additives
- Human-Grade Food – pet food made with ingredients that we could consume ourselves.
In addition to choosing a hypoallergenic diet for your pet with food allergies/hypersensitivities, there are other ways we need to support the digestive tract to get it re-balanced after allergies set in. If this step isn’t done, the symptoms may get better but not to the degree that they could if the gut was cleansed out as well. In holistic medicine, we feel that if the gut is happy, the whole body is happy. So, a gut cleanse/detox is recommended as a starting point. After that, we rebuild the gut with the use of proper probiotics and digestive enzymes. The time it takes to do this varies from pet to pet, but is often a three to six month plan. Once the gut is reset, we can control allergy symptoms in our pets through diet and supplements alone.
Allergies in pets can be contact, inhalant or food related. In truth, most dogs/cats have more than one type of allergy. A food allergy and inhalant allergy combination is quite commonly seen. This requires treating both forms of allergens in order to see a successful outcome. Allergies are one of the most frustrating disease processes to treat in veterinary medicine. It is a complex process, and each animal responds differently to their treatment plan. It is time consuming for pet owners and sometimes costly before the goal is reached. There are powerful drugs out there that mask the symptoms and make us feel better because the pet stops itching, but the truth is that these drugs do harm our pets in other ways. The question is, do you want to try to fix the problem or just hide the problem and deal with side effects of drugs used, down the road.
We work with pet owners to try to identify the pet’s allergy type/s and design a protocol to make the pet comfortable in the short term but, also work on a plan to minimize the symptoms for the long term. No doubt about it, it does take time and commitment, but those that commit to the plan see good results for their pet in both the short term and in the long term.
Ask us about the Cytopoint Injection!
Your furry friend can get itch relief that lasts. Just one CYTOPOINT injection safely relieves chronic dog itch due to allergic or atopic dermatitis for 4 to 8 weeks.* CYTOPOINT is a safe, effective, long-lasting treatment for chronic itch due to allergic or atopic dermatitis. It is an injection that is given by your veterinarian that targets itch at its source.
CYTOPOINT works like your dog’s own immune system. CYTOPOINT blocks signals that trigger itch, so the constant scratching can stop, and red, irritated skin can heal. In fact, in a study, CYTOPOINT helped damaged skin begin to heal within 7 days.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the office at 262-534-9392 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.