Pets suffer from many of the same allergies as humans. Thankfully, there are treatment options available. At Brandywine Veterinary Hospital, we have provided residents of Chadds Ford, Greenville, and the surrounding areas with pet allergy treatment services for many years. Following are the answers to several questions we frequently receive about pet allergies.
What are Allergies?
Allergies occur when the body reacts to a benign substance as if it's harmful. The allergen activates the immune system, which creates allergy symptoms.
What are the Types of Allergies?
Environmental allergies occur when your pet is allergic to something in its environment. These include pollen, grass, and dust. If your pet is allergic to a food ingredient, they have food allergies. Common food allergens are dairy, beef, chicken, and wheat. Contact allergies occur when your pet comes into contact with something that triggers an allergy. Grass, plants, fragrances, and chemicals are common culprits. Flea allergy occurs when your pet has an allergic reaction to flea bites.
What are the Symptoms of Allergies?
Your pet's allergy symptoms will vary based on the type of allergy it is suffering from. Environmental allergens typically trigger nasal and respiratory symptoms. Your pet may sneeze, have a runny nose, cough, or wheeze.
Food, contact, and flea allergies typically cause a rash. You may notice your pet licking or scratch frequently, red skin or skin lesions, and patches of hair loss.
In addition to the rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation are common symptoms of a food allergy. They can also cause nasal or respiratory symptoms, but this isn't common.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed
Allergies should be diagnosed by our veterinarian. Blood tests can help the vet diagnose most allergies. In some cases, the vet may perform a skin allergy test. This involves placing a small amount of the suspected allergen on the pet's skin, or under the skin with a tiny needle.
An elimination diet is often used to determine food allergies. Your pet will eat a hypoallergenic diet for 2 weeks. Then, potential allergens are added back one at a time. If symptoms stop when your pet is consuming the hypoallergenic diet, they have a food allergy. If symptoms return, the most recent food addition is the culprit.
Allergy treatment will depend on the allergen and its severity. When possible, the best treatment is to avoid the allergen, but this isn't always possible. You can restrict your pet's diet to avoid dairy, for example. However, you can't eliminate dust from their environment. When the allergen can't be eliminated, it should be reduced as much as possible. Antihistamines may be prescribed to help you manage your pet's allergies.
Allergy Treatment at Brandywine Veterinary Hospital
If your pet is suffering from allergies in Chadds Ford or Greenville, PA, contact us at Brandywine Veterinary Hospital. Our experienced veterinarian will give your pet the care they need.