Pet Allergy Management:

Is Your Pet Itching for Relief?

Woman with dog

Each year when the cherry blossoms bloom, it marks the return of spring. It’s a beautiful time and a perfect opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with your faithful canine—unless he or she suffers from allergies.

Our four-legged companions will most commonly experience either food or inhalant allergies. Both cats and dogs are susceptible. The Northern Virginia climate doesn’t especially help matters, either, as many human residents can attest.

Allergy Symptoms

How do you know whether your pet is suffering from allergies? Pets with food allergies may have vomiting, diarrhea, or skin issues that are similar to those experienced by pets with inhalant allergies.

Inhalant allergy symptoms may include:

  • Chronic itchiness—often involving the eyes, ears, base of the tail, and between the paw pads
  • Ear or skin infections
  • Hair loss
  • Odors coming from the skin or ears
  • Excessive licking
  • Skin redness or hot spots

Potential Allergens

In the case of food allergies, pets could be reacting to any of a number of food ingredients. While wheat allergies are fairly common, your pet also could be allergic to a protein source such as chicken, beef, or pork.

Cats and dogs are typically allergic to the same inhalant allergies that affect humans. These include mold spores; oak, pine, grass, and weed pollens; and dust or dust mites. Fleas also can cause severe allergic reactions, even after just one bite. If your pet has fleas, our veterinarians can provide flea treatment recommendations to assist you in eradicating them—both from your pet and his or her environment.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If your cat or dog is exhibiting symptoms of allergies, our veterinarians will recommend an allergy test. A blood sample will be taken from your pet and sent off for extensive testing. A customized report will be produced identifying which allergens are causing your pet distress.

If your pet has a food allergy, a change in diet will be necessary. Our veterinarians will provide pet nutrition counseling to assist you in selecting a food that is not only allergy-appropriate, but also will ensure optimal pet health.

If inhalant allergies are the root of your pet’s problem, our veterinarians will create a treatment plan to help desensitize your pet to the agents involved. This is typically achieved through a series of allergy shots that have been customized to meet your pet’s specific needs.

While your pet is awaiting relief, our veterinarians will recommend appropriate pet shampoos and pet medications as needed to assist with ongoing symptoms.