By: Dr. Anthony Loomis

Just as allergies can be a concern for you during this time of year, they can also wreak havoc on your pet. Allergens are substances in the environment that cause the immune system to react as if invaded by a foreign material.  Some allergies are seasonal, occurring less than three months out of the year.  Dogs and cats may be affected by inhaling grass pollen in spring and summer or ragweed pollen in late summer and early fall.  However, many pets suffering from allergies itch year-round because they are also affected by household dust, mold spores, and other irritants.

Pollen, mold, and dust are inhaled by animals just as they are by humans. Instead of causing sinus congestion and a sore throat, they cause the skin irritations or hair loss. Skin irritations can lead to excessive scratching and licking, which can also lead to the eruption of pustules that can become infected. Like in human sufferers, allergies are an inherited predisposition with certain breeds being more susceptible.

The diagnosis and treatment of allergies can vary from one pet to another. Pets that frequently suffer can be given an allergy test to pinpoint what allergens the animal is most sensitive to. The severity, duration, and frequency of irritation will determine how an animal is treated. Medication can be made specific for your pet’s allergies, so they build up an immunity to the irritants. In mild cases, antihistamines, creams, shampoos, and nutritional supplements can be used.  In more severe cases, steroids like cortisone or immunotherapy medications may be needed to control the problem. Often, antibiotics are also needed because the excessive licking or chewing has caused secondary bacterial infections.

If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from allergies, please call us at (908) 233-6030, so we can set up an appointment to treat your pet’s conditions.