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Allergies Got Your Pets Down? Read On.

Animals can have many allergies at the same time. There’s only one reliable way to determine if a food allergy is causing your pet’s skin itchiness: a hypoallergenic diet trial. For a set period of time, your vet will prescribe this special diet containing a new set of proteins that your pet has not had the chance to develop allergies to.  If the itchies go away – a food allergy is the culprit. If not – we start looking for another cause. It is really important during the diet trial to not give any treats or other food beyond the trial diet – even a few bites of the offending protein can trigger an allergic response.

There are blood tests for food allergies, but they are notoriously inaccurate and usually not worth the expense. Talk to your veterinarian about what symptoms or behaviors you are seeing in your pet and work with them on how to evaluate the cause of the problem.

A word of caution: It is very common for an animal with a food allergy to also be allergic to flea bites or even inhaled pollen (a condition called ‘atopy’ – I’ll talk more about in an upcoming post).  Allergies “add” to each other – the more things the pet is allergic to, the worse the itch. Since new technology and products such as topical flea and tick treatments (like SENTRY Fiproguard) have made flea and tick control safe and convenient, it is especially important (and no longer difficult) to ensure fleas and ticks are not complicating a pet’s itching problem.  For this reason, great flea control is very important for any itchy pet – regardless of the cause. You don’t want to exacerbate your pet’s misery from food allergy itchiness by allowing fleas or ticks to bite them!

Next week, I’ll discuss ways you can help the itchy, scratchy pet members of your family. If anyone else is itching and scratching, I’d suggest a nice moisturizing bath gel and/or lotion as a holiday gift!

Photo credits: PieDogMedia on Flickr

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