Managing Cat & Dog Allergies in St. Paul, MN
Humans are not the only ones who have to worry about allergy season—many of our pets do, too! Spring, summer, and fall are prime times for allergens such as mold, pollen, and dust mites. Some pets are more prone to allergies than others, and it’s these more susceptible pets who are affected. Cat and dog allergies often present as a skin condition called atopy which includes itchiness and irritation, causing pets to sometimes scratch themselves raw. At St. Paul Pet Hospital, we have the experience to diagnose and manage these allergy symptoms so your pet can feel good in their own skin again!
Cat & Dog Allergy Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of cat and dog allergies include:
- Excessively chewing and licking the feet
- Chewing, licking, and biting at sides and hind end
- Hair loss
- Continuous scratching
- Runny eyes
- Rubbing at face and ears
- Raw, red skin
- Yeast buildup in the ears (gives off strong odor)
What is Atopy?
Atopy, also known as allergic hypersensitivity, is often associated with the immune system's overdrive response to allergens which results in relentless itching. Since your pet's only option is to scratch and lick in response, this can lead to damaged skin and infection. Your pet's condition might seem like an endless cycle but luckily it can be managed with patience, diligence, and the proper treatment.
Making a Diagnosis
The first step to managing allergies is diagnosing them! Many skin conditions in pets have similar symptoms to allergies, so it’s important to first rule out these other possibilities before zeroing in on allergies. We’ll examine your pet thoroughly and check their skin for abnormalities using the following diagnostic tests, as needed:
Allergy blood testing
Standard blood testing
Skin scraping and microscopic assessment
In the event we think the skin condition is caused by a food allergy, we’ll need to put your pet on an elimination diet. If your pet’s symptoms disappear while on this diet, we can safely assume their skin condition was caused by a food allergy. We’ll work with you to begin adding in ingredients one by one to determine the culprit for causing your pet’s allergic reaction so you can confidently avoid that ingredient in the future.
How We Treat Atopy in Pets
Often, atopy can begin developing in pets 1-3 years old. There is no permanent cure for cat and dog allergies but atopy can be kept well under control. When treating atopy, we prefer to use medications containing cortisone, which often produces the best results. Such medications include:
Cytokine inhibitors such as Apoquel and Cytopoint are also useful for reducing itchiness and healing irritated skin. We also offer hypoallergenic shampoos for removing allergens and soothing discomfort.
Treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Some pets are particularly sensitive to flea bites and can break out in an itchy rash with as little as one flea bite! For these pets, flea prevention is of paramount importance. At St. Paul Pet Hospital, we recommend Bravecto for dogs, which is a tasty chewable that offers as many as 12 weeks of protection. For cats, we recommend Revolution Plus, a monthly topical solution. Both treatments require a veterinarian’s prescription, so contact us today for an appointment!