Pets & Allergies: A Comprehensive Guide

Pets & Allergies: A Comprehensive Guide

A lot of pet owners are unaware that their pet might be suffering from an allergy. Animals can have allergies or intolerances, just like people do. The allergies can present in a number of different ways, from skin irritations to gastrointestinal issues. Again, similarly to humans, these allergies or intolerances can develop at any stage of your pet’s life; however, they most commonly occur in the young. Allergies are not curable, but they can be managed, so let’s dive in.

A Background on Allergies

An allergic reaction occurs as the result of an overreaction in the immune system. The reaction itself can be in response to a number of things, from environmental factors like dust to an ingredient in the food consumed. When it comes to pets, the allergy is often to a form of protein, but they may also develop an allergy to any of the ingredients commonly found in pet food like soy or wheat. As mentioned above, allergies can present in any number of ways, but the common symptoms tend to be things like inflammation, rashes, restlessness, excessive flatulence, a pain response, vomiting or diarrhea.

When to Consult a Vet?

Any of the above symptoms can warrant a trip to the vet, especially if the symptoms seem long-lasting. It is always advisable that you be overly cautious because, unfortunately, there are a lot of other conditions that can result in similar symptoms, which is why you should err on the side of caution. Remember, you know your pet; if you think something is wrong, then don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your vet. An allergy is not necessarily that serious; there is absolutely no reason why your pet can’t continue on with its life after an allergy diagnosis. On the other hand, failing to treat an allergy can be incredibly detrimental to the health of your pet. 

Diagnosing an Allergy in Pets

Often, the diagnosis process is somewhat similar to a process used to diagnose humans: a food trial or an elimination diet. A vet provides you with a diet that you should try with your pet. The diet itself shouldn’t provoke a reaction from your pet which provides you with a baseline to measure against. If your pet remains symptom-free, then you can slowly begin to reintroduce different things back into their diet. You should do so slowly and carefully, waiting to see if their symptoms recur. Blood tests may also be conducted to look for environmental allergens.

If during the elimination trial the symptoms persist regardless of the removal of all potential allergens, then the cause is likely something else and not down to an allergy at all. Sometimes the symptoms of an allergy can be consistent with IBS, for example. IBS in pets is the result of inflammation as opposed to an allergy. Your vet can recommend further testing or another diet to try to work out the cause of your pets’ issues. 

Treating an Allergy

Unfortunately, as with humans, there is no cure for an allergy in your pet. Realistically, the best course of action is avoidance. If you have gone through the vet’s tests, you hopefully will have a better idea as to what your pet is allergic to. You can simply continue to use the diet suggested by your vet as long as your pet has had no reaction to it. Nothing else has to change; you can simply continue on as normal while taking the steps to avoid the allergen.

Depending on the allergy and the type of pet, you may be able to find specialist food and treats that won’t upset your pet’s stomach or trigger their allergy. For example, Native Pet has a huge range of treats and supplements designed for dogs with health issues, including allergies. So your pet doesn’t have to miss out on anything, by doing your research, you can find hypoallergenic or allergy-friendly treats to reward them with. 

You might also want to think about how the allergy presents itself. If the symptoms seem limited to the skin and present as irritation or inflammation, then an environmental factor is likely to blame, but your vet should have discussed this with you. These may be harder to treat because they are harder to avoid. Your vet might recommend special shampoo to wash your pet with. They might also recommend a trip to a specialist to get a better grip on the cause of the allergy and, therefore, a course of treatment. 

The Takeaway

There are no preventative measures that can be taken to avoid a food allergy, sometimes, these things simply happen, and it is no one’s fault. As mentioned above, the symptoms of an allergy are somewhat general, and they aren’t exclusive. When in doubt, you should always visit the vets and heed their advice. An allergy does not have to limit the life of your pet; when you have all of the information, you can make better decisions. 

Rohit Raina
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