Fall Allergies for Pets
By Margaret Meier Jones, Buffalo Valley Veterinary Clinic
Have you checked out this latest “hot spot”?
What do you think of when you here the term “hot spot”? Most likely something fun like the latest new cafe or bistro to meet your friends for a bite to eat or coffee? The newest app from the app store, like the new Pokemon adventure? When I hear this term from my nurses, it means an entirely different thing; and it certainly isn’t any “fun” for my furry patients who suffer from it. Instead, it means we are entering another fall allergy season.
An allergy is a state of over-reactivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an “allergen.” Most allergens develop from exposure to a particular component (usually protein) from an insect, plant, animal, or man-made materials. When our immune system is over-reacting, the response to these allergens can range from a mild local reaction, commonly referred to as a “hot-spot” to more severe, life-threatening emergencies. In all cases, our beloved companions are miserable, and we just want to help them get comfortable… QUICKLY!
At this time of year, the phone is ringing off the hook with people calling with questions on how to manage these allergies at home. Unfortunately, the clinical symptoms of allergies can often be confused with other disorders, or occur at the same time as other problems. Owners’ frustration with apparent “failure” of OTC medications, such as antihistamines, is usually a direct result of these underlying disorders. Having a whole-istic approach to the situation is crucial with you and your veterinarian working together as a team to provide relief from this dis-ease.
Your veterinarian will likely begin this approach with a laundry list of questions trying to narrow down the source of the allergen. Allergens can come into your pet’s body through contact with the skin, through the respiratory system, by way of the digestive tract, or “injected” into the pet by those pesky insects. Ironically, the route of exposure to the allergen often does NOT correlate to the clinical symptoms. For example, we often see dogs with food allergies having normal stool and no history of vomiting. Instead, they present to us with dry hair, oily skin with pustules, and dandruff. These conundrums are also why trying to just manage your pet’s allergies with OTC products leads to further discomfort for both you AND your pet.
The anti-body known as Ig-E, produced by your pet’s immune system in response to the allergen, is the culprit that starts the allergy cascade and leads to these confusing and miserable symptoms. A simple blood test can be performed on your dog or horse to help determine what your pet is actually allergic to. Clients are often visibly surprised to learn that something as simple as a change of bedding material can greatly reduce or even eliminate the problem! These test results can also help develop a customized “allergy-shot” regimen to de-sensitize your pet from its most severe allergies as well! Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, spinal manipulation, and Traditional Chinese Medicine can also help to augment the treatment regimen your veterinarian has prescribed. So don’t despair! Saying good-bye to your pet’s allergies will free you up to enjoy your new favorite local hot spot!
Dr. Meier Jones obtained her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI. In 2007 she was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in animal chiropractic, and in 2012, Dr. Meier was also certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.