Allergy Treatments for Pets - Lake Geneva WI

Frequently asked questions about pet allergies

What are common allergy symptoms?

Skin disease is the most common symptom of allergies in pets. They can be very itchy causing them to lick, chew and bite at their skin and hair, causing bald patches and skin sores. Common sites involve the feet, sides and base of the tail. In addition, they can suffer from ear infections, which can be chronic in nature if the underlying allergic cause is not treated. Cats can also suffer from feline acne and respiratory symptoms.

What is the typical age of onset of allergies?

Most animals with allergies begin to show symptoms between 6 months to 3 years of age. While all breeds can be affected, Retrievers, Boxers, Terriers and Shih-Tzu's are some of the more common breeds that suffer from allergies.

What are the most common allergens that affect our pets?

Just like humans, our pets can be allergic to inhaled allergens, including pollens from grasses, trees and weeds, dust mites, mold and dander, as well as insects, including fleas. Additionally, animals can have food allergies. Food allergies can develop over an extended period of time, even if that is the only food your pet has ever eaten.

How are allergies treated?

Many options are available for treatment. Often we start treatment with antihistamines and an Omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement. As with humans, we may need to try multiple antihistamines to find the best one for your pet. If the symptoms are severe, we may also use a corticosteroid short-term to calm the itchiness. We also have other long-term medications available if antihistamines are not sufficient to control the symptoms. If there is a skin or ear infection also present, we will need to treat that as well. Often, topical treatments such as shampoos, conditioners, ointments or sprays can also be used to heal the skin. For young animals with severe allergies, we will often recommend allergy testing to provide additional treatment options that can limit the amount of oral medication your pet needs.

What does allergy testing involve?

Allergy testing requires a blood sample be drawn at our office and then sent to an outside laboratory for testing. All samples are checked for reaction to the most common inhalant allergens, including weed, tree, grass, mold, mite and flea allergens. Dogs are screened for 66 allergens, whereas cats are screened for 55 allergens. Additionally, we can test for reaction to food ingredients, insect and indoor allergens, including cotton and other fibers.

What does desensitization/immunotherapy treatment involve?

Once we have established what your pet is allergic to, then we can create an individual treatment set for your pet. Immunotherapy requires injections of very low concentrations of the allergens that affect your pet. The main goal of this form of treatment is to reduce the amount of oral medication your pet needs to stay comfortable. This is the same therapy technique used for people who receive "allergy injections". We teach you how to administer the injections, which allows you to give them to your pet at home. Initially, you will give the injections twice a week, and then gradually extend the amount of time between injections as you increase the amount of the allergen you are giving at each injection. Most owners start to see improvement in their pet's symptoms after 6-8 months, but immunotherapy requires 3-5 years to reach its full potential. Some patients require life-long treatment to prevent relapse of their symptoms.