Just as a human can develop allergies, domesticated animals can display adverse health symptoms from exposure to fleas, environmental and dietary allergens. Allergens can be inhaled, ingested or come in contact with a pet's skin, resulting in a variety of digestive, respiratory or dermic symptoms. Thankfully, there are reliable testing methods available to accurately diagnose and treat allergies in pets. Potential solutions include pet medications and hypoallergenic diets.
Diagnosing Pet Allergies
Allergens and the reactions they cause may differ from animal to animal. Reactions to dietary allergens are uncommon, affecting less than 10% of dogs or cats. Environmental allergens include those that are found indoors, like dust mites and mold spores, and outdoors, like pollen spores and grass. Animals may also be exceptionally sensitive to bites from fleas. Even a small amount of flea saliva can cause widespread irritations on the animal.
Pets can display a number of symptoms that may be indicative of an allergic reaction, including:
• Sneezing, coughing or wheezing
• Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
• Swollen paws or paw chewing
• Itchy ears or ear infections
• Itchy back or base of the tail
Some of these symptoms, though common allergic reactions, can also be indicative of other health issues. Before a pet is tested for allergies, they should be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian. After the vet has determined that the animal is suffering from allergen exposure, they can administer a sufficient allergy test.
Allergy Medications for Pets
Human medications, such as over-the-counter antihistamines, should never be given to a pet unless specifically prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. These drugs could cause adverse effect animals if they are taken alone or mixed with another medication. Extreme drowsiness, seizures or other symptoms may occur.
Pet medications will be prescribed based on individual symptoms, symptom severity and any preexisting conditions the animal may have. Regarding food allergies, the animal may be placed on a special diet that either limits or removes the reactive ingredient. Medications, like antihistamines, corticosteroids or allergy shots, may be prescribed to manage other allergies. For dermic reactions, topical medications such as shampoos or creams may also be prescribed.
Unfortunately, as of now, there is no cure for pet allergies. However, treatment methods, including pet medications, are available that can successfully manage symptoms and allow the animal to enjoy a better quality of life. A licensed veterinarian can accurately diagnose and appropriately treat pet allergies.
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