Ask Dr. Anna: pets and allergies

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It looks like spring is finally here and so is allergy season. I’m seeing lots of itchy dogs and cats. Unlike our upper respiratory symptoms, pets become itchy when they have allergies. According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, allergies are one of the top ten claims that are filed.

TAnna Coffinhere are three main types of allergies in pets. Inhalant allergies, also known as atopy, are usually seasonal and are caused from environmental allergens such as pollen and mold. Food allergies are caused from an allergy to the protein source found in your pet’s food. Because your pet is constantly exposed to the food, this type of allergy occurs all year around. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is an allergic reaction that a pet has to flea saliva. This can occur seasonally or all year around. It’s not uncommon to see pets with allergies to all these things. Many owners don’t understand why their middle aged pet has suddenly developed allergies. Both people and pets can develop allergies to any substance with repeat exposure. Bacterial and fungal skin infections along with chronic recurring ear infections are very common secondary problems that occur from allergies.

Treatment varies depending upon the type of allergy. It’s very important to treat skin and ear infections as these also contribute to your pet’s symptoms. Steroids, like prednisone, are probably the most common treatment for all of these allergies. Steroids help to immediately relieve the symptoms but this is a short term fix and is not a cure. Steroids have many side effects and long term use makes your pet prone to more serious diseases like diabetes. FAD is treated by a flea eradication program, which includes flea control on all pets in the home along with environmental treatment for fleas. If your pet has FAD, the best remedy is early or all year around flea prevention. If you think your pet has a food allergy, please talk with your veterinarian about possible diet changes. I recommend long term atopy be treated with a new medication called Atopica which has less side effects than steroids

This is a chronic condition that will recur throughout your pet’s life. Unfortunately, allergies cannot but cured so the goal is managing your pet’s symptoms effectively to ensure good quality of life. Pet allergies are very frustrating for the owner and the veterinarian so open communication between the two parties is very important to keep your pet comfortable during allergy season.

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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