Allergies in your Cat and Dog
By Dr. Janet Weistock, Veterinarian
For cat owners:
Does your cat have episodes of wheezing or coughing? There are many causes of these symptoms, but one in particular can be an allergic reaction.
You may notice your cat having more labored breathing, or seeming to use more of his/her abdominal muscles when breathing, or even shorter, more shallow breathing, or even open mouth breathing. Your veterinarian will confirm the diagnosis with radiographs, but sometimes they are not 100% diagnostic and so the diagnosis is by excluding other causes and response to medical therapy.
There are various methods of managing this disease from oral medications to inhaled medications.
Some things to be aware of or avoid in the home of an asthmatic cat are cigarette smoke, dust producing cat litter, aerosol sprays, scented candles, oil or plug in scented diffusers, or unchanged/old air filters.
For dog owners:
Does your dog lick its feet chronically, have frequent ear infections, skin infections or just seem to be itchy all the time? He or she could have allergies to things in your home (wool carpeting, dust or storage mites, fabric softener, carpet powder), the protein in their diet, or outdoor environmental allergens.
We have come a long way in veterinary medicine in treating these symptoms and have more effective treatment options to steroids and antihistamines to make your pet more comfortable, but don’t forget it is often important to try to diagnose the underlying cause to best treat your pet. This could be a hypoallergenic diet trial to serum or intradermal allergy testing.
Therapies that can help control the symptoms of allergies can include diet changes, immunotherapy allergy injections to desensitize to specific allergens (grass, trees, pollen, mold, etc), monthly antibody immunotherapy injections, oral anti-itch medications (more specifically targeted to controlling the itch without side effects of steroids and more effective then anthistamines alone), and sometimes antibiotics and medicated shampoos are also needed.
It is also very important to keep your pet on regular flea and tick preventatives to minimize reactions to these parasites and other diseases that can be transmitted by them.
If you are concerned, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet evaluated and discuss what diagnostics and treatments are the best option for treatment of your pet.