May is Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

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For the past several years, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has promoted asthma and allergy awareness during the month of May. While the campaign is aimed at humans, it's always a good idea for pet owners to be aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of these conditions in their animal friends. Since dogs and cats display different reactions to allergy and asthma triggers than people do, it can be difficult to know when they are suffering unless you know the symptoms.
Common Classifications of Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Animal allergies typically fall into three distinct categories. These include:
  • Atopy:  The most common type of allergy in pets is usually seasonal. Your dog or cat may be allergic to pollen in the spring, ragweed in the fall, and dust mites in the winter when she spends more time inside. Symptoms include rubbing the face, chewing the feet, constant licking in in the groin area or on the sides, inflammation, ear infections, wheezing and respiratory distress, and scabs or areas of baldness across the body.
  • Contact Dermatitis: Your pet may develop contact dermatitis when parts of his body touch something he is sensitive to. Common examples include carpet cleaners and flea collars. Symptoms of this type of allergy include intense scratching and loss of fur in severe cases. You will notice small red bumps, especially on his muzzle, feet, and belly.
  • Food: Up to 15 percent of allergies in companion animals are to food ingredients. Itching typically occurs in the anal area, limbs, trunk, face, and feet. Your dog or cat may develop chronic ear infections, skin infections, or have an increased amount of soft stool. Food intolerance, which is not a true allergy, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. We carry foods for special diets in our online store.
Asthma in Companion Animals
Cats are much more prone to asthma than dogs, but their owners often fail to recognize it. One reason for this is that an asthma attack in a cat can look like she is trying to cough up a hairball. Common asthma triggers in pets include car exhaust, fireplace or cigarette smoke, mold, mildew, household cleaners, pollen, dust, flea spray, and room deodorizers. Coughing is the primary symptom of animal asthma. Severe untreated asthma can cause daily panting and wheezing that can occasionally become life-threatening.
Treating Allergies and Asthma in Your Pet
For both allergies and asthma, the best form of treatment is to eliminate the trigger that caused it if possible. Since dogs with atopy allergies still need to go outside where triggers are present, we can prescribe a medication, specialty shampoo, or steroid treatment. Please click here to view the allergy relief products in our online store.
With asthma, treatment may consist of steroids, bronchodilators, or antihistamines. We may need to combine some of these to prevent flare-ups most effectively. If your pet has a severe asthma attack, it may be necessary to give him oxygen therapy. The good news is that with diligence on your part and careful evaluation on ours, your pet with allergies or asthma can lead a long and happy life. Additionally, the veterinarians at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic check for signs of allergies or asthma at your pet’s annual preventive care exam

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