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Information on Pet Allergies from Our Plantsville Veterinarian

German Sheppard sitting in a big field.

Two of the most common health issues affecting dogs and cats are allergic reactions to food, pollen, parasites or other environmental irritants. Allergic reactions occur in both humans and animals when something consumed, inhaled or touched causes their immune systems to aggressively attack their own bodies. If the immune system "thinks" this invading substance is harmful to the body, it may overreact, and by several complicated biochemical immune pathways,  it will release various substances which cause allergic signs and symptoms. Fortunately, veterinarians have many new tools for treating allergy causes and symptoms.

Common Sources of Food Allergies

Soy, corn, wheat, eggs and dairy products are common triggers of food allergies suffered by dogs while cats may be allergic to dairy products, beef or fillers (soy, corn). Poor quality, large molecule proteins in these foods are difficult to break down, which causes the body to inadvertently absorb bigger than normal proteins that the immune system does not recognize. Consequently, your pet's immune system releases chemical mediators and antibodies to combat these foreign molecules. In dogs and cats, classic signs of pet food allergies are called "rears and ears" symptoms and include:

  • Recurring ear infections, especially yeast infections
  • Anal gland impaction
  • Itchiness/redness around the face, ear, and paws
  • Skin lesions/hot spots/hair loss from constant scratching
  • Changes in skin color
  • Diarrhea/vomiting/gas/burping
  •  Increase in bowel movements (not necessarily diarrhea but looser than normal stools)
  • Weight loss without reduced appetite

Food allergy symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on how much of the culprit food your pet eats and how strong his immune system reacts to protein allergens.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Food Allergies

After examining your pet and ruling out gastrointestinal disorders or skin diseases, our veterinarian will begin performing tests to determine what kind of foods may be causing your pet’s discomfort.  One way is by eliminating certain foods from your pet's diet, beginning with commercial wet and dry food and table scraps. Your veterinarian may recommend feeding your pet a hydrolyzed protein or novel protein diet comprised of specially made pet food that has already broken down all proteins for easier digestion and absorption. Blood tests are also available to pinpoint food allergies if elimination of commercial foods from your pet's diet does not provide adequate results.

Skin Conditions Caused by Parasitic or Seasonal Allergies

Flea dermatitis is the most common reason for feline and canine skin conditions, followed by a seasonal allergy to pollen and mold. Biting at their skin, scratching until they break the skin and constantly licking their skin are signs your pet may have flea dermatitis. If you see tiny, black specks peppering your pet's fur near the surface of the skin, the "dirt" is probably dried blood specks left behind by fleas which have feasted on your pet’s blood. Loss of hair, scabs and inflamed ears may indicate your pet is allergic to fleas or something in his indoor or outdoor environment.

Contact Our Local Veterinarians, Dr's Rothstein and Freiman in Southington for More Information Today!

If you think your pet is suffering from food or seasonal allergies make an appointment at our veterinary clinic today by contacting us at 860-628-9635.

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