Allergy and Immunotherapy in pets

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An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. With allergies, the immune response can actually be harmful to the body.

 Food allergies and environmental allergies can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms can include itchiness, hair loss, skin infections and ear infections. In addition, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why your vet may need to start with diagnostics to first rule out skin mites, fungal infections and endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism or  Cushing’s.

An indicator of a food allergy can be the location of the skin problems: If you notice lesions all over your dog’s body, on the flanks, ribs, hips or knees there’s a big chance it’s a food allergy. In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from eyes or nose. In other cases, the allergic symptoms affect the digestive system resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.

There are four main types of allergy in pets: atopy, flea, food, and contact.

 Other than flea bite allergies, atopy is by far, the most common cause of allergies in pets. Atopy refers to environmental allergies; Atopy is the name given to allergies that result from breathing in pollen, dust, or mold.  The pet’s body releases excess histamine when exposed to higher concentrations of these allergens in the air, which prompts symptoms.

About ten percent of all dogs develop environmental allergies. Some breeds are more susceptible, such as: Retrievers, Terriers, Boxers, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Shepherds, Beagles and Irish Setters.

 The first way to get relief for your pet is with antihistamines. Unfortunately, antihistamines are only effective in 30% of dogs.

The next option is a much stronger medication: corticosteroids. Steroids are much more effective at treating allergy symptoms but are not recommended for long-term use because of possible severe and permanent side effects

At Anzer Animal Hospital, we continue to exceed all clients expectations by offering allergy testing, a way to get a positive diagnosis for atopy (inhalant dermatitis) and to  some contact allergies. When an allergy to a specific substance can be identified, the dog can receive immunotherapy (hyposensitization injections).

Allergy shots are the only effective method to stop the progression of allergies.

Allergy testing should be considered for any animal that is suffering from allergies that occur for more than four months out of the year, and or do not respond to traditional treatment.

It’s important you seek immunotherapy treatment as soon as possible for your allergic pet, since environmental allergies are progressive and will worsen as a dog gets older, it is necessary because of their quality of life, and also because secondary bacterial infections could develop as a result of the allergies.