“Doc, he scratches, chews, or licks so much that he keeps us up at night!” This is an unfortunately common frustration that pet owners express. The good news is that you are not alone and there are answers. Both you and your fur baby can get a good night’s rest.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Allergies cannot be cured but can be managed successfully. It can be challenging to find the protocol that is most effective for each individual pet. The objective is to keep them from needing antibiotics or steroids more than 3 months out of the year. The solutions are often a combination of therapies that are as unique as your pet.
WHY IS HE SO ITCHY?
There are three different categories of allergies: seasonal/environmental, food, or atopy. Animals can be allergic to anything we are allergic to. Seasonal allergies typically fluctuate with the seasons and respond relatively well to medications. Food allergies typically are year round and respond poorly to medications alone. Atopy is a syndrome that refers to the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases without a definitive cause.
Some patients can be managed on antihistamines alone; while others may require specific allergy medications like Apoquel tablets or Cytopoint injections. Antihistamines can be given through the allergy season or year round. Fish Oil (Omega Fatty Acids) is a good supplement for healthy skin and coat and mild anti-inflammatory. Fish oil can be a high quality, over the counter human, capsule or we have a liquid, pet version that you pump over the food. The key is choosing the product(s) that are easiest for you to use or give to your pet. Finding the right protocol can be overwhelming but that is why we are here to help guide you and tailor the protocol based on your pet’s history and clinical signs.
WE ARE HERE TO GUIDE YOU
It is possible to perform allergy testing to allow for custom tailored allergy injections to be made up. These injections are used to alter the immunes response to the allergens and thus reduce the allergic clinical signs. The injections are used long term and can be very effective in some cases. Allergy testing is most often utilized in cases where our first line of defense products are not gaining adequate control of the clinical signs.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD ALLERGIES?
Food allergies are a real thing but they are not as common as other allergies. A food trial can be performed to help identify a diet that can successfully be fed to a food allergic patient without causing clinical signs. You want to select a novel protein (i.e. over the counter Dick Van Patten Limited Ingredient Diets have some reasonable options) or a prescription hypoallergenic diet that you will feed for 6-8 weeks. During this time, they cannot have ANYTHING but the diet and water by mouth. Even flavored flea/heartworm preventatives can sometimes cause a flare up. Very often patients are so sensitive to an allergen even residue proteins in over the counter foods can cause a flare up. In these cases, the patients MUST be on a prescription diet to see much improvement.
Using hypoallergenic baby wipes or a damp cloth to wipe down the feet and legs after they come back inside can help reduce the allergen burden on the skin and help with seasonal/environmental allergy related itching.
WATCH FOR THE FLARE UP
Regardless of the regimen that is selected, allergy patients will occasionally have flares up that will need to be treated with additional medications. Often allergy patients are so in sync with the seasons that we can be prepared for the flare up around the same time each year.
Everyone, with two legs or four, deserves a good night’s rest.