Skin Allergies Can Irritate Pets Year-Round!
April 1st, 2016 | Posted in General
Throughout the year, one of the most common reasons for pets to visit Upstate Veterinary Specialties veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Michelle Tranchina, is allergies. Just like their human owners, many animal companions must contend with allergies.
Common allergy types experienced by pets:
• Cutaneous Adverse Food Reactions
• Environmental Causes
We often hear of an animal lover’s need to endure allergy shots, take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications but, do you know that some pets receive allergy treatments too?
A referral to Dr. Tranchina generally includes a review of the pet’s history and any diagnostics done by the family veterinarian. To help gather this information prior to the appointment, a questionnaire is also sent to the owner. During the initial dermatology visit, Dr. Tranchina examines the pet and discusses the owner’s concerns. The types of reactions in companion animals are often similar to human allergic responses (such as itchy skin or ears, rashes, and infections) and the treatment options are also similar.
Cutaneous Adverse Food Reactions:
Often a food trial is recommended as a strategy for determining the cause of pets’ allergic reaction. By systematically eliminating dietary sources of allergens, the source of the problem might be found. However if food is not determined to be a factor in causing the pets’ symptoms, the culprit may be environmental. A pet may be allergic to elements within the home or outside, or even the pet’s human companions!
If the reason for allergic symptoms is environmental a dermatologist like Dr. Tranchina might recommend allergy testing to help define the specific causes of the pet’s reactions. Much like allergy testing that human allergy sufferers undergo, small amounts of a substance (pollen, dust, etc.) is injected superficially into the pet’s skin. Unlike in human patients, pets with allergies normally cannot remain still during the 15+ minutes generally required for comprehensive allergy testing. Therefore, the pet is placed under conscious (or “twilight”) sedation after baseline bloodwork is done to make sure that anesthesia is safe. This also minimizes a pet’s stress during the procedure.
Skin Allergy Testing Procedure:
The allergy testing procedure is conducted methodically to make the most efficient use of the pet’s time under sedation. A patch of fur is shaved on the pet’s side, and then the dermatologist and veterinary technician map out a grid on skin. Once the grid is prepared, the dermatologist injects minute amounts of potential allergens superficially under the skin. Any allergic reaction to the substance can generally be noticed immediately and documented. Following the skin test, an allergy vaccine is custom-formulated for the patient and the dermatology technician demonstrates for the owners how to administer the vaccines at home. Typically the pet is sent home with the vaccines that have been prepared. After three
months of receiving allergy vaccines, Dr. Tranchina evaluates the pet’s response. Allergy vaccines are generally a life-long treatment which helps the pet cope with sensitivity to factors in their environment.
If you think your pet’s chronic skin troubles could be due to food or environmental allergies ask your family veterinarian if allergy testing or vaccine therapy may help bring your pet relief.
Our patient referral form can be completed online or printed and faxed to us at (518) 783-3199.