tips to decrease exposure to allergens

Posted by Dr. Jules Benson on Jun 02 2009


Just like people, pets can suffer from allergies. Check out below to see what kinds of allergies are most common, what symptoms to look for and what you can do about them.

Types of Allergies

There are several different ways your pet can be allergic; the most common types are caused by food, parasite, contact and inhalant allergens. The last type, which is the most common cause of “seasonal” allergies, usually affects pets most during certain seasons (usually spring and fall), but, in severe cases, can cause problems all year round. The most common inhaled allergens are from trees, grasses, weed pollens, molds and even dust! (You know, all the stuff they like to roll around in!)

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The most common symptoms of allergies in our pets are usually related to skin; chewing at their paws, rubbing their face/ears and scratching their bodies. Excessive chewing, scratching and rubbing can often lead to secondary skin, ear and eye infections. In severe cases respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, bumps and scabs on the neck, lip ulcers and even enlargement of lymph nodes can be seen! (Not fun stuff!)


Holistic Supplements: Essential fatty acids (e.g. fish oils which contain Omega-3 compounds), vitamins A& E, and zinc in conjunction with natural anti-inflammatory such as bioflavinoids can sometimes help alleviate symptoms by increasing overall skin health.

Topical medications: Some veterinary recommended sprays and ointments can offer relief in mild cases.

Antihistamines: Some lucky allergic pets can control their symptoms with antihsitamines. Unfortunately, these don’t tend to be as effective as they are in people.

Shampoo: Using medicated shampoos that add protective layers or even anti-inflammatory compounds to the skin can really help to reduce some pets’ discomfort.

Desensitization injections: Much like human dermatologists, veterinary skin specialists can determine what the triggers are for your pet’s allergies and formulate desensitization injections for specific irritants. Repeated injections are given to help reprogram the body’s immune system. While this can be costly, it can be a great way to give them relief without resorting to long term medication.

Medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatories and antibiotics during severe outbreaks but these are not medications that should be used long-term. For very badly affected pets there some long-term immunosuppressant medications that can be used; your veterinarian will be able to tell you if these are appropriate for your pet.

*As always, consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any medication.


•Bathe your pet once or twice a week with a veterinary recommended medicated shampoo
•Restrict pets to uncarpeted rooms
•Vacuum with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter
•Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter
•Wash bedding often
•Replace air conditioner/heater vent filters

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