End your pets (and your) suffering with proper diagnosis and treatment

Thump, thump, thump. Another sleepless night listening to the dog scratching. When a dog or cat keeps developing itchy skin or ear infections, frequent diarrhea or anal gland inflammation, we start thinking about allergies.

What causes them

Dogs can be allergic to dietary proteins, parasites and a huge variety of grasses and trees. The most common causes of allergic reactions in cats are fleas, diet, and airborne toxins, especially secondhand smoke. Cats can also be highly sensitive to the protein in a fleas saliva, making flea protection critical.

Allergy symptoms

In dogs, symptoms include runny eyes, redness between the paws, hair loss and intense itching. Cats, like humans, typically exhibit respiratory distress congestion and sneezing in response to allergens.

Diagnosing and treating allergies

Pinpointing an allergy takes a simple blood test. This reveals reactions to vegetation, food, fabrics such as wool, and other irritants.

Dietary allergies are the easiest to treat. Your vet can suggest a special hypoallergenic diet or give you a list of foods that don’t contain the protein your pet is allergic to. Dietary changes can produce improvement after about six weeks.

In some cases, pets with severe allergies may also need anti-sensitivity injections. We administer minute amounts of allergens under the skin on a precise schedule. This can sometimes be necessary for the rest of a pets life, but it can spare you and your dog or cat a lot of misery.

If you think your pet might have allergies, see your vet about solutions and get some sleep.

Get your dander down

Many pet owners suffer through allergies reactions to proteins in pet dander, skin flakes and saliva rather than live without their companions. Pet hair can also bring outdoor allergens such as pollen into the house. Reduce the misery by taking these steps:

  • When you handle your pets, take care to prevent pet hair or dander from coming into contact with your face. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Bathe and brush dogs and cats weekly.
  • Use HEPA or other micro-particle filters on vacuum cleaners and furnaces.
  • Keep your pets out of your bedroom. If your pet does sleep on the bed, wash the linens frequently.
  • Talk to your vet about changing your pets diet, which can affect the allergens present in its skin, fur and saliva.

Kent Greer, DVM, is a veterinarian practicing in Central Florida. For more information, visit centralfloridavets.com.