Allergies are a disease in which the immune system reacts abnormally to substances such as pollens, dander, mold spores and certain foods. Allergic reactions are usually caused by inhaling, absorbing or ingesting the allergen.

Types of Allergies

Allergic inhalant dermatitis (atopy) is the most common skin problem we see in pets in the Lawrence area. Instead of sneezing like humans do, pets with allergies develop itchiness (pruritus) and frequently lick their paws (pedal pruritus). Atopy is also the most common cause of recurrent ear infections. Atopy is not curable, but can be managed with long-term medication. There are potential side effects and we will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns your might have.

Food allergies make up about 10% of the allergies found in pets.

Allergy Testing

We may recommend skin testing (intradermal allergy testing) to confirm your pet's allergies. Because this is a relatively specialized procedure, we refer patients to the Veterinary Allergy and Dermatology Clinic in Kansas City for testing.

Treatment Options

  • Antihistamines may be useful in the long-term management of atopy, but they are not helpful during an active flare-up because histamine is already present at that point. Additionally, anithistamines only benefit about 1/3 of atopic pets.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids are natural anti-inflammatory agents which may be helpful in maintaining your pet's coat and skin heath.
  • Medicated shampoos and rinses can help control atopy because they soothe and hydrate your pet’s skin. Bathing also helps remove topical allergens, bacteria and yeast. Many shampoos also contain analgesics to relieve itching. Remember to use cool or lukewarm water when bathing your pet as it is more comfortable than warm water.
  • Topical medications that contain cortisone, antihistamines and/or antibiotics can help with focal allergic flare ups.
  • Cortisone/Steroids are widely used (and abused). Because of their many potential side effects, corticosteroids should be used cautiously.
  • Apoquel® is a new oral therapy for dogs that is specifically designed to target the source of the itch. Apoquel® can work for both inhalant and food allergies and can safely be used long term.

To learn more about allergies in pets, search our Pet Care Library.

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