How to Combat Those Awful Pet Allergies
Educating pet owners about pet allergy symptoms, remedies and preventative measures is a part of a veterinary technician’s job responsibility. Pet allergies are not only a problem for pets, but you also want your pet to be free of any discomfort. What are some of the most common allergies for dogs, cats, and horses? Food and skin allergies seem to occur more than any other type.
Pet Allergies: Dogs
Your dog may be allergic to certain kinds of food. This isn’t as common as you may think, but the cause is most likely due to their immune system not recognizing the food as a protein. The most popular foods that dogs tend to be allergic to include: wheat, egg, dairy, beef, lamb, soy, chicken, rabbit, fish, and pork.
Some of the symptoms you may notice in your pet include: skin irritations (hives), itchiness, red inflamed skin, itchy ears and face swelling. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be signs of a food allergy.
Food Allergies in Dogs
What should you do if you think your dog has a food allergy? Your veterinarian will more than likely want to test your pet or use an elimination diet. An elimination diet may be used as a 12-week trial by feeding your dog a carbohydrate and protein until the culprit is found.
If it’s determined your dog has a food allergy, then you can avoid whatever food it is. Some type of topical medication may also be needed to treat the itching. Some dogs are just more prone to allergic reactions than others. These breeds are: English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Chinese Shar-Peis. Other breeds also found to be at a greater risk include: Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Doberman Pinchers.
Skin Allergies in Dogs
What are some of the common skin allergies in dogs? Fleas, grass, and environmental issues are the most common problems. The skin is sensitive to the flea’s saliva, so during flea season, comb your dog often and watch for fleas. Frequent baths can also help, as well as giving your pet flea and tick medications.
If the dog is allergic to grass, keep your lawn mowed and try to limit their exposure to the grass. Also, wipe off their feet upon entering your home as their feet and toes are usually very susceptible.
Pet Allergies: Cats
If you find your cat sneezes frequently, has runny eyes and a runny nose, chews on their paws, has itchy skin, or has a vomiting or diarrhea issue, then it may have an allergy. Cats can have allergic reactions to food just as dogs for the same reason. Artificial food coloring in your pet’s food, cornmeal, dairy products, seafood, meat byproducts, and preservatives can all cause allergies.
Skin Allergies in Cats
Your cat’s skin may also have an allergy problem. Causes may vary from grass, weeds, pollen, trees, flea bites, and house dust. Once your cat comes into contact with what’s causing the allergy, a protein called IgE is produced by its immune system. The protein will attach itself to the skin, causing your pet to itch.
Your veterinary technician will run a blood test or use a trial elimination to try to figure out the culprit. Treatments often include: topical or oral medication, placing a cover securely over their bed, and changing out the furnace filters on a regular basis.
If you find that fleas are the problem, there are medications for your pet that will kill adult fleas and regulate insect control. Your veterinary technician can help you find the best product for your cat.
If pollen seems to be the issue, then it’s probably a seasonal allergy. The best way to combat pollen is to keep your cat indoors with your windows closed, using an air filter or air conditioner. Also, keep the cat’s fur clean by bathing them regularly. It may be necessary to given them an anti-histamine or an immunosuppressive drug.
Pet Allergies: Horses
If your horse has an allergy, it’s because its immune system overreacts and causes your horse to become hypersensitive. Your horse’s skin may itch or develop hives around its neck or shoulders. It may also have an outbreak of bumps called wheals, have patchy hair loss, or crusting. Breathing issues may also occur with a cough or nasal discharge. Watery eyes and a runny nose can also be a sign which can cause them to snort.
What are common allergens for horses? There are several, including: insects, dust, mold, grooming supplies, pollen, synthetic materials, and medications. Common insects are: mosquitoes, horseflies, black flies, and biting midges, also known as “no-see-ums.” There are also certain foods that could be problematic, such as: alfalfa hay, bran, buckwheat, oats, clover, barley, potatoes, feed supplements, and especially preservatives found in processed feeds.
Skin Allergies in Horses
Skin testing or serum testing are the most common ways to figure out your horse’s allergy. With skin testing, allergens are injected into the horse’s skin to test their reaction. If there is swelling, then that is an indication of a positive result.
Veterinary technicians perform serum testing by drawing blood from your horse and sending it to the lab. The results will list what your horse is allergic to.
To help combat insects, you can put a body suit or fly sheet on your horse. Sprays, insect control management and improving the ventilation in the barn to aid in controlling dust are also helpful. Treatment serums may also be useful in the desensitization of an allergy. Your veterinary technician or veterinarian may prescribe an anti-histamine or use a shampoo made for itchy skin. To help with hives, your horse may need hypo-sensitization treatments.
If you believe your horse has a respiratory allergy, it could be caused from mold in the grains or hay. By soaking the hay in water, it will help eliminate unwanted irritations. Always make sure your horse is getting plenty of fresh air and has fresh bedding.
Did learning about pet allergies interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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