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Allergies in animals present with many different symptoms. Spring is when the majority of owners notice some clinical signs of allergies but may not even be aware of them. Pollen is at its natural high and, like humans, animals can also become affected. Spring is not the only season that produces allergens. Not all allergies are from the environment–some are caused by what the pet may consume.
What can you (animal owners) expect to see in animals with allergies? In dogs, symptoms can show up as excessive itching, hair loss, ear infections, skin sores, and/or even thickened skin. Cats may exhibit some similarity. Sores can be present around the neck/head or hair loss from excessive grooming. There could also be gastrointestinal signs as well. Cats may have some vomiting episodes that can show up after eating.
Some helpful tips for at-home treatment if money may be of concern can start with dietary changes. Eliminating table food would be step one. Step two is choosing an over-the-counter diet that is good for the skin. For example Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach, Royal Canin Sensitive Skin Care or Feline Hair and Skin, Iams SensitiveDigestive and Skin, etc. All these diets are nonprescription and readily available. When we talk about food change, there are some things to take into consideration to be effective. Cleaning bowls, food containers, and/or and measuring scoops are a must to prevent cross-contamination of allergens in food. The reasoning in cleaning before getting a new food is that particles from the old diet can still be present, and improvements may be delayed or nonexistent. Foran owner to actually see improvements can take up to 3 months, and that is step three–waiting. During what we call a “food trial” in the veterinary world, foods including treats have to be eliminated and become strictly limited for owners to see changes. prescription veterinary diets are actually a better source to perform a true “food trial,” but you can try less aggressive over-the-counter foods first if not able to visit your veterinarian.
Supplements are always a good addition for at-home care. There are so many supplements out there, it makes it hard to know what really works for your pet. It does take some time for pet owners to do a little research into the purity and effectiveness of the many products and the company that produces the products. Some examples of supplements include adding fish oils(i.e. Nutramaxx, Nordic naturals). Some topical treatments could be bathing with an oatmeal or a soothing type shampoo a few times a week to wash off any topical allergens. Essential 6 from Dermoscent is also a great product to apply topically to help repair damaged skin. Also, unscented wipes can be used to wipe your pet down after going outside or eating to remove particles that could cause irritation.
All these recommendations are great to try at home first. In the case where there are open sores on the pet or even a possible ear infection, seeking veterinary help is recommended, as these situations can be exacerbated and could get worse and painful to the animal. Most veterinary clinics offer treatment plans after the initial exam has been performed that could help determine the cost. They could also help in trying to find over-the-counter medications to lower the cost. Not all allergy symptoms can be seen on your pet. Taking notice of what is abnormal for your animal could be the first step in helping your pet.