Allergies are not a curse for humans alone! Animals can develop allergies to food or the environment. Certain proteins in pet food, pollens, dust mites, molds, and even human dander (skin flakes) commonly stir up allergies in dogs, cats, and horses.
A veterinary allergist can perform an allergy test on your pet to determine what they are allergic to. You can then try to minimize your pets’ symptoms by limiting their exposure to the allergens that make them miserable. If it’s a food allergy, you can try an elimination diet. For dust allergies in the home, vacuuming frequently, cleaning pet bedding, and using HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate arrestance) can minimize irritants in your home. For mold allergies, ventilate your home well and use a dehumidifier where appropriate. Try to keep your pet out of humidity-prone areas such as bathrooms and basements.
For pollen allergies, watch the pollen count and try to keep your pet indoors on the most pollen-prone days. You can also bathe your pet frequently to limit pollen build-up on their fur.
Allergy Treatment for Cats, Dogs, Horses
While avoidance may help to some degree, it’s far from full-proof. The big challenge is that most allergens are airborne. Thus, no matter how much you try to allergy-proof your pet’s environment, all it may take is a few pollen granules to waft by to set your pet off.
If you continue to observe allergies in your cat, dog, or horse, here are some allergy treatment options:
- Medicated or oatmeal-based shampoos and conditioners can ease itching from pet allergies.
- Allergy vet prescribed steroids can suppress allergies and their symptoms, but long use of steroids may lessen efficacy and cause harmful side effects.
- Antihistamines can also resolve allergy symptom, but they too come with side effects. Another drawback to antihistamines (and steroids) is that they don’t fix the underlying allergy. In most cases, when you stop the meds, the symptoms continue.
- Immunotherapy is the one treatment that has been proven to address the underlying allergy. Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy. With shots, antigen is injected into the skin where it absorbs into the bloodstream and helps pets develop an immunity to allergens in the environment.
Shots can be tricky to administer, though, so many pet owners are turning to a no-shots alternative known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). With SLIT, antigen is dispensed into the pets’ mouth where it is carried into the bloodstream through specialized oral cells. SLIT is safer than shots and can be administered at home.
If you suspect that your pet has allergies, contact an allergy vet for diagnosis and allergy treatment recommendations.