As previously discussed in our “itchy dog” blog, there are two broad categories of allergies seen in pets. So, what are they and how do we manage them?
Animals with food allergies will often be itchy all year round, as they are eating the food that they are allergic to all year round.
The most common food allergens in dogs include beef, dairy, and chicken.
The most common food allergens in cats include beef, dairy, and fish.
Approximately 30% of animals also have gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and anal gland issues.
So, how is a food allergy diagnosed?
The ONLY way to diagnose a food allergy is by performing a diet trial. A diet trial is performed by feeding a special diet prescribed to you by your veterinarian and nothing else, for 8-12 weeks. Feeding any food outside of the prescription diet will set the trial back to day 1 of the 8-12 weeks. It may take the whole 8-12 weeks to see improvement in your pet, so do not be discouraged early on. In the meantime, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help with the itchiness.
Animals with environmental allergies may only be itchy, or be worse, in certain seasons, depending on what they are allergic to. They can be exposed to allergens through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion.
Many breeds are predisposed to environmental allergies, including Golden retriever, Labrador retriever, Shar-Pei, and West Highland white terrier. Management of environmental allergies are individualized for each patient and may include.
- Topical therapy; Shampoos
- Anti-itch and anti-inflammatory medications (as prescribed by your veterinarian)
- Treatment of any concurrent infection.
- Allergy injections – testing must be performed to determine what allergens should be included in the injection. Your family veterinarian may be able to send off a serum (blood) test or you can visit a veterinary dermatologist for an intradermal (skin) test.
- Some animals may have both food and environmental allergies.
If you are concerned that your pet may have allergies, please contact your veterinary office. Your veterinarian will work with you to create the best plan for you and your pet.
If you have any questions, give us a call at 506.857.4271.
Written by: Nicole Mann, DVM