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May 4, 2022

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Why is my pet so itchy…is it allergies?

Spring is a very common time of year for allergies to flare up in our pets. Just like us, pets can have environmental allergies to different types of pollen and grasses.  When these are floating in the air, our pets’ allergy symptoms can start up. If your pet has environmental allergies, they do not have to come into direct contact with the allergen, instead inflammation is caused by microscopic particles that they inhale. Pets can also have food allergies, so please discuss both types of allergies with your veterinarian before assuming a certain diet or medication is needed.

What sort of symptoms are associated with pet environmental allergies? 

Most commonly we see itchy skin, ear infections, licking and/or chewing at paws. Symptoms can vary from very mild to severe and can worsen as a pet gets older. Some pets have multiple symptoms, while others just have one. The allergies can also lead to infections, plus the constant scratching or chewing can cause secondary infections. These skin or ear infections are usually bacterial, yeast or a combination of both. 

How are allergies diagnosed? 

At times, allergies can be difficult to diagnose. There are blood or skin testing that can be performed for environmental allergies. Sometimes, symptoms that repeat every year at the same time can allow for a presumptive diagnosis of a seasonal or environmental allergy. 

How are allergies treated? 

There are many different ways to treat allergies. Since we often cannot remove the allergen from the pet’s life, we need to treat the symptoms that arise. The first is to treat any infections that have occured because of the allergy. For instance, if your pet has a skin or ear infection, then those are itchy and your pet will continue to itch until the infection has cleared. The next step is to decrease the itching and inflammation caused by allergies. This can vary from antihistamines to allergy serum desensitization shots to oral or injectable medications to block inflammation. Antihistamines only work in about 20% of pets with mild symptoms. Serum desensitization injections can be formulated after allergy testing and they may take 9-12 months before they are effective. So we often reach for medications that block the inflammation pathway caused by allergies in order to reduce itching. Other treatments such as shampoos, wipes, ear flushing, and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation can also be helpful. 

If you’re worried about your pets skin, ears, or feet, let us know and we are happy to help!