A Word From... Dr. C.A. Heller III DVM

Pet Allergies
We all have seen a friend or family member who suffers from allergies. But did you know, that our pets can also suffer from allergies? There are three main allergies that are seen in pets. They are as follows: environmental, fleaand food allergies.

Environmental allergies are caused by things in the environment that a pet’s immune system over reacts to. The end result is a release of histamine and other itch factors. When histamine and itch factors are present the pet will lick, chew or rub itself excessively. The end result can be self-mutilation of the skin. When the skin is damaged secondary infections occur. Environmental allergies are often due to pollen, molds, and microscopic mites that live in dust or in pet food. Symptoms can be seasonal or year round.

Flea allergies occur when the pet’s immune system over reacts to the presence of flea saliva. The end result is the same as with environmental allergies, itching, licking and chewing. In dogs the area most affected is where the tail attaches to the body. In cats it is often around the neck. Symptoms are present only when fleas are present on the animal. Some animals are so allergic that it only takes the bite of one flea to cause symptoms.

Lastly is food allergies. This occurs when the immune system over reacts to a protein in the pet’s diet. Symptoms are the same as with the other allergies, licking, itching and chewing. Some animals will also chronically vomit or have diarrhea and a red or itchy rectal area. Symptoms are usually year round.

There can be overlapping of allergies. This makes diagnosis very diffcult.

Treatment involves avoiding the specifc allergen (this may be impossible to do), use of anti-histamines and anti-allergic medications, antibiotics to control secondary infections, special hypo allergenic foods and flea control.

Hopefully your pet will never suffer from allergies. If it does, your veterinarian can guide you through the diagnostic process and treatment. We must all remember, allergies can never be cured, they can only be controlled.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!


C.A. Heller III, DVM
Animal Care Clinic

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