Let’s Talk About Allergies
Allergy is a complex condition
An allergy is a genetically predisposed condition in which the body’s immune system has a hypersensitive & adverse effect to external substances that are common and harmless to most animals. The immunological mechanisms underlying allergy in dogs, cats and horses are essentially the same as in humans. As soon as the immune system encounters anything that it deems as foreign to the body, it responds by creating antibodies and immune cells. When the same substance is encountered again, the body decides whether to react and how. This is where things go wrong in allergy patients. Instead of reacting slightly or not at all, there is a severe reaction.
Do you think your pet or horse has allergies? Click below to see our list of symptoms.
The Most Common: Atopic Dermatitis
Atopy is one of the most important forms of allergy in pets. Between 3% and 15% of pets suffer from an atopic condition¹. Atopy is hereditary and it can lead to allergies against the pollen of some plants (e.g. grasses, weeds, and trees), fungi or various dust and storage mites. Certain breeds appear to be at higher than average risk of developing atopy. Such breeds include the Lhasa Apso, Schnauzer, Alsatian, Boxer, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Poodle, West Highland White Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Jack Russell, and Fox Terrier². The symptoms of an atopic individual usually manifest themselves before the age of 3 years. The initial symptoms are often mild and are tolerated by pet parents because they respond well to short-term symptomatic therapy or because they initially only appear at certain times of the year such as pollen allergies in the summer.
Other types of allergies that patients may suffer from are:
Flea allergy caused by contact with flea saliva; Food allergy where certain food components function as an allergen; contact allergy where the reaction is caused by antigens that come into contact with the skin (carpeting, blankets, shampoo and the like). Because the symptoms associated with the various allergies may look very similar, it is important that a proper clinical examination is carried out to find the exact cause of the allergy.
Sporadically, symptoms occur in animals under 6 months of age. The first symptoms have often escaped the owner’s attention, or a quick response occurred after administering symptomatic medication. In other cases, the animal recovered spontaneously after the season or the environmental factors have changed.
Such breeds include the Lhasa Apso, Schnauzers, Poodles, Terriers (West Highland White, Cairn, Jack Russell and Fox Terrier), Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Boxers, Retrievers, and Labrador¹. (1 Sousa, et al. Vet Immunol. Path. 81 (2001) 153-157)
As the allergy progresses, the symptoms may occur throughout the year. Allergens such as house dust mites and cat epithelium may cause allergic reactions throughout the year.
The immune system reacts by producing substances that lead to an inflammatory reaction of the skin (and sometimes the mucous membranes as well) and initiate itching.
- Atopy or atopic dermatitis: Hypersensitivity to pollen, mites, molds and dander
- Food allergy: Hypersensitivity to protein components of the diet, such as chicken
- Insect and flea allergy: Hypersensitivity to insect and flea saliva
- Contact allergy: Hypersensitivity to materials such as plastic, linoleum and paint
- Drug allergy: Hypersensitivity to antibiotics, antiparasitic and other medicines
More than 30% of all skin irritations in animals can be attributed to allergies. The right treatment approach can set you on the best path towards happy, symptom-free patients and satisfied pet parents.
Hypo-sensitization TreatmentHypo-sensitization (also called allergen-specific immunotherapy) tries to make the patient less sensitive or not sensitive at all to the reacting substance.
Hypo-sensitization is the gold standard of medical treatment for some types of allergies. Our treatment sets are custom built based on your animal’s allergy profile, containing allergenic extract designed to gradually introduce your animal’s immune system to the offending allergens and increasing their tolerance. It is available in sublingual oral spray or subcutaneous injections. Patients that have symptoms for more than 3 months can be considered for allergen-specific immunotherapy. This is a lifelong treatment in which the patient is never completely cured, but rather the disorder is kept under control.
Learn more about Hypo-sensitization treatment.