Read Does My Pet Have Allergies? (Part I) to learn about symptoms to look for if you suspect your pet has allergies. If you read Part I and believe your pet is allergic to something, then the next step is to find out if your pet has a food allergy or an environmental allergy.
Your pet most likely has a food sensitivity if his/her skin or ear symptoms are year-round, constant, and reoccurring. The only way to test this theory is by doing a food trial:
- Consult with your veterinarian about the food trial. Find out which food will be the best option. Your veterinarian will recommend a limited ingredient homemade or commercial diet or a hydrolyzed diet.Note: A prescription diet is needed for the test because over-the-counter diets are not considered trial foods since pet food companies often use ingredients that are not listed on the label.
- Avoid any other food or treats that are not part of the new food.
- The trial will last for 1-2 months.
- To ensure the pet’s improvement is not a coincidence, re-introduce the original diet to the pet. See if any symptoms return.
If your pet’s condition does not improve with the food changes, then he/she could have an environmental allergy. Your pet may be allergic to pollens, dusts, dust mites, molds, or insects. Your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist can find out what your pet is allergic to with a test. A skin testing is when small amounts of pollen, dust, and other possible allergens are injected into your pet’s skin. If a bright red spot forms, your pet is allergic to that shot.
There is currently no cure for allergies, but there are ways to treat them. Allergy Immunotherapy (or allergy shots) is one option to desensitize pets to their allergens, and decrease the symptoms. However, allergy shots can take a long time to work. If you or your pet do not like needles or need a different treatment, other options to help relieve your pet’s allergy symptoms include: oral medications, sprays, shampoos, and creams.
If you suspect your pet has allergies, contact your veterinarian right away for treatment options. If your veterinarian does not offer advanced dermatology services, ask for a referral to Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s board-certified dermatologist.