May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month! A perfect time to raise awareness, as it is the peak season for asthma and allergies. Allergies not only affect humans, but dogs and cats can develop allergies, too. Because pets have different reactions to allergies than humans do, it’s essential to know the type of allergies and how it can impact your pet.
SAGE Dublin dermatologist, Stacey Holz of SAGE says, “Flea allergic dermatitis, food allergies, and environmental allergies are common in pets. Allergic skin diseases are usually chronic and incurable and are often complicated by infections, making a multi-faceted approach necessary. Flea control use, customized food trials, and environmental allergy testing are used in many patients to aid in long-term allergic skin disease management along with bathing and topical therapies to control infections.”
Flea control tailored to your pet and household is usually the key to preventing flea allergic dermatitis, which can result in and exacerbate itching and scratching.
Pets can become allergic to any component of their food, but common food allergens include poultry, beef, eggs, soy, corn, and dairy. Food allergies are diagnosed via a food trial with a limited and novel or less common ingredient diet over several months.
Like humans, pets can also be allergic to grass, tree, and weed pollens, human or other animal danders, house dust mites, mold, and insects. Reactions to environmental allergens are one of the most common causes of chronic itching in pets. Intradermal allergy testing, also known as skin testing, is one diagnostic test that allows a doctor to pinpoint some pets’ environmental allergens. This test is performed by injecting a series of allergens under the skin and gauging positive reactions.
Allergen identification can aid in the creation of customized allergen therapy. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is the creation of a specific allergen extract formula based on your pet’s history, exposure, and allergy test results.
Asthma in Pets
Asthma is also referred to as allergic bronchitis, a condition in which your pet can have frequent occurrences of coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. During an asthma attack, a constriction in the airway causes a buildup of mucus, creating more inflammation and generating a spasm that causes breathing difficulty.
The constriction can occur on its own, or it can be caused by something in the environment that the animal has inhaled or eaten, like grasses, fertilizers, aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke, mold, etc.
It’s important as pet parents to help with prevention by reducing household sprays, switching from chemical cleaners to green and natural cleaners, or removing your pet from areas where you will be using the chemicals or spraying until the chemicals have dissipated. Additionally, replace your HVAC air filters regularly or consider purchasing an air purifier for your home and the place where your pet spends the most time.
If you start noticing your pet suffering from allergies or asthma, it is best to take your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible to address the issues, so your doctor can create a customizable treatment plan and get your pet back to feeling better!