Allergy Q&A from our Audubon Animal Medical Center team.
What exactly is an allergy? An allergy is a condition in which the body’s immune system produces antibodies, and a substance called histamine, in response to a presumed threat, even though the trigger (or allergen) is actually something harmless.
What are the principal types of allergies that threaten pets? The two main categories of allergies that affect animals are environmental allergies (also known as atopy) and food allergies. Environmental allergens may include seasonal pollen, atmospheric pollutants or toxins, chemicals, and tobacco smoke. Flea and tick bites can result in a skin reaction known as contact dermatitis. Food allergens can include pork, lamb, rabbit, fish, beef, chicken, wheat, soy, corn, and dairy products.
What are some common symptoms of an allergic reaction? Both environmental allergies and food allergies generally take the form of skin itching, redness, swelling, and irritation. You may notice “hot spots” of reddened skin or patches of hair loss. Your pet may also be licking, chewing, or scratching at these inflamed areas. Some animals can also develop respiratory issues.
Do any of these symptoms indicate a potential emergency? While most allergic reactions are more uncomfortable than dangerous, the occasional severe allergic reaction can be life threatening. The most frightening such reaction, anaphylaxis, causes the airway to swell up, making breathing difficult or impossible. If your pet has trouble breathing, bring him to our clinic immediately for emergency treatment.
How can “ordinary” allergies create complications for my pet’s health? The most obvious and common example is bacterial infection. If your pet constantly scratches, bites, or licks an irritated patch of skin, the resulting skin damage invites bacteria to invade, which may lead to a serious infection and further complications down the road.
How are pet allergies diagnosed? Our veterinarian at Audubon Animal Medical Center can help you discover the source of your pet’s allergy. While environmental and food allergies can produce similar symptoms, for instance, bowel disturbances may point more toward a food allergy. We will advise you on how to remove different allergy triggers from your home environment, or substitute one type of food for another, until the offending allergen is revealed — at which point you can take steps to eliminate or minimize future exposure.
How are pet allergy symptoms treated? While our ultimate goal is to alleviate your pet from his allergy symptoms altogether, in the short term we can help relieve his most distressing symptoms. Cleaning the skin to rid of pests, oils, and bacteria can provide some relief. We may also prescribe topical ointments or antihistamines to ease swelling and itching.
Audubon Animal Medical Center Has the Solution
Your pet doesn’t have to suffer from allergies. Bring him to Audubon Animal Medical Center so our skilled team can find the solution to his problem and help him enjoy life again!