Allergies can get the best of us, especially during the spring. For some, allergies can be quite serious, and the same is true for pets. Knowing what to do if your pet has an allergic reaction is an important part of emergency preparedness and prevention.
Although we hope your pet will never experience a dangerous allergic reaction, knowing how to respond can make all the difference. Even if the symptoms are minimal, you can be instrumental in caring for your fur friend by making him or her more comfortable and at ease.
How to Respond When a Pet Has an Allergic Reaction
Allergic reactions are common among cats and dogs and are one of the top reasons animals end up in emergency clinics. From insect bites and bee stings to seasonal allergies or atopy, pet allergies can present several health problems, some of which can become life-threatening (as in the case of anaphylaxis).
Know Which Allergens Bother Your Pet
Symptoms of a possible allergy include:
- Persistent scratching
- Rubbing face
- Biting at paws or other parts of the body
- Scaly, dry, and/or red skin
- Hot spots or hair loss
- Rash or raised bumps on skin
- Inflamed or itchy ears with/without odor
An allergic response is an overreaction of the immune system to an allergen. Over time, the immune system becomes stressed and less capable of fighting off true infections and viruses. That’s why it’s important to get your pet’s immune system back in working order. This not only protects him or her from the discomfort of symptoms, it also supports good overall health.
If you suspect an allergy, please contact us for a consultation and testing.
If your pet has allergies, it’s a good idea to create an emergency kit, especially if he or she is prone to more severe reactions. In this kit, keep a list of your veterinarian’s contact information, the contact of local veterinary emergency clinics, and copies of your pet’s prescriptions and medical records.
You may also wish to keep Benadryl on hand; however, do not give your pet this or another human medication without getting instructions from your veterinarian. In some cases, your pet may already have a prescription EpiPen, which you’ll want to carry with you at all times.
Severe allergic reactions should be treated as a medical emergency since anaphylaxis can be fatal. These symptoms include:
- Swelling of face or eyes
- Difficulty breathing or gagging
- Sudden diarrhea and/or vomiting
Although it may be impossible to remove all allergens from your pet’s environment, you can avoid a serious reaction by minimizing exposure to known or potential allergens.
- Cleaning your pet’s bedding and toys regularly and vacuuming often
- Using an air purifier and humidifier in main living areas where your pet spends time
- Soaking or cleaning the paws after time spent outdoors to remove allergens
- Keeping your pet’s coat clean and skin soothed with the use of a hypoallergenic shampoo
- Avoiding areas where bees or insects are swarming (flowering trees and bushes, around bodies of water, near a hive, etc.)
If you have any questions about allergies in pets, please contact the team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital.