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For the love of your pet: No magic pill for pet allergies

Jan. 26, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 25, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.


By John Beck

My dog has been dealing with allergies his whole life. We have tried to handle his chronic problems with antihistamines, steroids and hypoallergenic food and treats. My poor dog has gotten to the point that he runs when he sees me coming with ear washes, pills, etc. Are there any other options that we have not already done?

My office sees a lot of allergy dogs. Living in South Texas, we are handed a battle with inhaled and contact allergies.

The first step is to rule out any parasite. A lot of times, pets can be diagnosed with allergies but really have a mite living in their skin.

A very good taping and scraping is recommended, or even a skin biopsy to rule out a hidden fungal, yeast or parasite problem. Flea control is also very important.

Many, many dogs and cats are allergic to flea saliva. They do not make any magic pill or injection for the flea saliva allergy.

Using a monthly prescribed preventative along with treating and monitoring your pet's environment is very important.

Once all the other underlining conditions are ruled out, we can then accept the diagnosis of allergies.

At this time we usually start with the antihistamines, steroids and food trials, as you previously mentioned.

If none of these actions are providing relief, then I recommend allergy testing. All we need to do is draw blood from your pet, which is then sent to the lab for testing.

Approximately seven to 10 business days later, we will receive a report that tells us exactly what your pet is and is not allergic too. This report includes allergens that are common to our area from trees, weeds, grasses, molds, fungi, insects and food.

If your pet tests positive or is truly allergic to one of these items, they make a recommendation as to what can be mixed in immunotherapy or allergy injections.

This specially blended immunotherapy contains small quantities of allergens that are injected underneath the skin. These injections help change the immune system over time to be less sensitive to these specific allergens.

Every pet responds differently to medications and immunotherapy with a success rate of allergy injections falling between 60-80 percent.

If your pet comes back as having a food allergy, then the simple elimination of that food type from your pet's diet will usually solve your problem.

Keep in mind that your pet can develop new allergies over time. Though many treatments can be very successful for a very long time, there are the occasional cases where retesting may be needed to address new allergies.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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