So my pet has allergies . . .
We have told you that the symptoms your pet has been displaying (scratching, chewing his paws, rubbing his face, vomiting/diarrhea, etc.) are allergic responses to something(s) in the environment and/or food. Just like you and I, before allergy symptoms occur, your pet has to have had contact with the allergen.*
Often allergy symptoms increase in severity over time and can actually be life threatening (see anaphylaxis**), if not life altering. An allergy test can be done to identify suspected allergens and the results will help to determine treatment options. Allergy testing can be achieved through a simple blood sample or the slightly more involved intradermal (skin) testing.
If your pet is thought to have an inhalant (e.g. mold, pollen) or contact (e.g. grass, wool) allergy there are some things you can do to minimize the symptoms:
- Purchase an air cleaner and vacuum with HEPA filtration
- Wipe your pet’s body and feet with tepid water after going outside
- Have your house checked for mold for your pet’s health as well as your own
- Feed a home-prepared raw/cooked diet or canned product. ALL dry foods contain dust mites, which are common, high allergenic stimuli in dogs
When a food allergy is suspected we may prescribe one or more options:
- A limited novel ingredient diet: these are diets designed with ingredients not common to commercial pet foods. These can either be prescription, over the counter or home prepared.
- An allergen elimination diet: these prescription diets are formulated with ingredients that have been modified to reduce or eliminate allergic reactions.
With either of these options the most important thing to remember is not to deviate from the prescribed diet/ingredients at all. If you do, this could cause a setback that will take some time to recover from, as it takes time for the body to eliminate food allergens. Usually, all treats must be eliminated other than those that contain specific ingredients.
The recommendation is to feed these diets exclusively for 3-4 months. Usually, this is sufficient time
to see an improvement and identify the offending allergen. This is called a “food trial” and is an important step in diagnosing a food allergy.
* Allergen: a substance that causes an allergic response.
** Anaphylaxis: an exaggerated allergic reaction, which may include hives, swelling of the face or throat. May inhibit breathing and can be life threatening. If these symptoms are seen, seek medical attention immediately.