Each year millions of Americans suffer from allergy, a type of immune hypersensitivity which includes asthma, rhinitis and food allergy. More Americans than ever are suffering from allergies. The occurrence of allergies in our pets’ mirrors that which occurs in human allergies, and incidence is rising each year.
Animals, just like people, can suffer allergic reactions to a wide variety of environmental substances, or allergens. Research has shown that immunologic mechanisms underlying allergy in our companion animals (dogs, cats and horses) are essentially the same as in humans.
The word “allergy” originated from two Greek words meaning “altered reactivity.” In today’s lexicon, allergy is used to describe a condition of hypersensitivity to a substance that is otherwise considered harmless to most animals or people. The substances that trigger allergy are called allergens, and include:
- Dust mites
- Dander (animal and human)
Exposure to these substances, by physical contact, ingestion or inhalation, causes the body’s immune system to overreact and produce antibodies to attack the invading allergens. The most common manifestations of allergic disease include:
- Dermatologic symptoms (atopic dermatitis)
- Respiratory symptoms (allergic rhinitis, asthma)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (food allergy)
- Ocular symptoms (conjunctivitis)
Pets and horses can suffer from allergies like we do. They typically are displayed through various skin related issues and other symptoms. Knowing what to look for in a pet suffering from allergies can help you and your veterinarian develop a good pet allergy treatment or management plan.
DOG ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
Dermatitis (skin irritation) is the most common symptom for dogs with bad allergies. This can manifest itself as:
- Severe itching and scratching (pruritis)
- Dogs chewing and licking feet Face rubbing
- Hair loss
- Rash, skin abscesses, and infection
CAT ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
About 40% of Cats that have allergies demonstrate similar dermatologic (skin) symptoms as dogs. Cats with allergies will excessively groom themselves, causing hair loss, and exhibit other traits like:
- Feline acne
- Eosinophilic granulomas or plaques in Cat Cat’s with asthma / respiratory symptoms
- Cat sneezing, nasal discharge, watery eyes
- Excessive grooming and hair loss
- Gastritis, vomiting, and diarrhea
Once your veterinarian has determined your pet’s problem is allergy, your vet may prescribe the ACTT Allergy Management Program.
The ACTT Allergy Program includes a simple blood test for allergen identification, followed by immunotherapy treatment.
To begin, your veterinarian will draw a small amount of blood from your pet and send it to us for testing. Also known as “serum IgE” testing, the ACTT Allergy Test detects elevated levels of IgE antibodies that occur in the blood when an allergic pet comes into contact with allergens. Unlike other allergy tests, your pet can stay on prescribed steroids during testing. Many other tests require a pet to be off steroids for a minimum of two weeks, causing discomfort to your pet.
Your pet’s serum can be tested for sensitivity to a panel of outdoor allergens (such as grasses, trees and weeds) specific to your geographic region, as well as common indoor allergens (such as dust mites, tobacco and dander.) Insect and food allergy testing are also available.
THERE ARE FOUR WAYS YOUR PET CAN BE EXPOSED TO ALLERGIES:
Contact Allergy: Most of pet allergy exposure is by contact with the skin. Allergens gain entry through tiny cracks in the skin.
Inhaled Allergy: Most common inhaled allergens include pollens, molds, dander and mites.
Food Allergy: Most likely cause of allergy symptoms in pets less than 1 year of age.
Flea Allergy: The most common type of allergy in both dogs and cats.
What are the advantages of the ACTT Allergy Program?
- Unlike other allergy tests, your pet can stay on steroids.
- Any veterinarian can submit your pet’s blood sample.
- No shaving or sedation is required of your pet.
- With the food test you will receive a list of recommended diets specific to your pet’s needs.
- Individualized treatment, based upon your pet’s allergy results.
- In the long run, you will have a happier and healthier pet!
With allergy testing, you can find out exactly which allergens are affecting your pet. Once identified, those allergens can be treated successfully with immunotherapy.