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Allergic Pet?

2010 November 10

rex cat

Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Common Symptoms

  • Runny Eyes and Nose
  • Rubbing face and ears
  • Licking paws
  • Licking belly fur
  • Scratching all over
  • Red, red skin
  • Recurrent bouts of “hot spots”
  • Frequent, inexplicable “sensitive stomach”


Up to half  —half — of American cats and dogs, and probably just as many worldwide in industrialized countries, suffer from atopy.  Atopy is a fancy word for allergies to inhaled allergens.  The standard allergy selection panels check for mites, molds, pollens, grasses, cat dander, human dander, and insects like fleas, usually about 60-80 allergens in a standard geographically regional “allergy test.”

Food Allergy or Sensitivity

Then 10% (by recent estimates) of dogs and cats suffer from food allergies.  There are no statistically accurate laboratory or skin tests for food allergies in pets.  An allergy elimination diet trial must be performed.  VirtuaVet has a comprehensive article explaining how to perform your own allergy elimination diet trial at home.

Allergy Treatment in Dogs and Cats


70% of dogs respond favorably to allergy treatment with custom-made allergy desensitization shots and many respond to cyclosporin modified capsules of immunomodulatory medication, which often continues once a month for years or for life to keep allergies under control.

Remove/Avoid the Allergen

Occasionally, the allergen is removable from the pet’s life.

“I had a patient who came up with a 5 out of 6 score on a blood allergy test to Red Cedar.  I’d never even seen higher than a 4 of 6 before this little Westie,” said Doc Truli, “Luckily, his dad switched to pine needles, instead of Cedar mulch in the yard, and the symptoms cleared up!”


Many pets respond favorably to immune system strengthening.  Whether a deficiency is corrected, or the nutrition boosts the immune system is a debatable subject.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation of a Quality Fish Oil or (for dogs) Flax Seed Oil with the subcomponent called “EPA” at the proper published dose to boost the immune system and decrease itchiness.  DO NOT supplement your dog without consulting your veterinarian (that’s why I did not publish the dose here; VirtuaVet is not responsible for what you put in your pet’s mouth!)  Some dogs, like Miniature Schnauzers, are prone to potentially deadly pancreatitis and could die from a change in their fat intake!

Cats lack an enzyme needed to convert flax omega’s into active, useful omega’s, so feed your cat a fish oil source of Omega 3’s like menhaden fish, salmon, cod liver oil, anchovy, or krill.

If you home cook for your dog, or already have a skin/coat health/allergy diet, it may already have enhanced Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  These fats accumulate in the fat storage areas of the body and therefore, can become overdosed and make your pet sick.  Your veterinarian can advise you.

Ask your veterinarian about adding Vitamin E to your pet’s diet for immune system health, skin health, and decreasing itchiness.  Some scientific research says Vitamin E does not help in people, but the research is performed on incomplete, laboratory-made Vitamins.  Research done with fresh, natural Vitamin E proves it’s amazingly helpful qualities.  Plus it helps the body absorb Omega 3’s better!

There is no published dose for Vitamin E in dogs and cats.   Ask your veterinarian to decide on a dose for your pet(s).

Both Omega 3’s and Vitamin E are Fat Soluble vitamins.  This means they are stored in fat in the body and you can overdose and cause serious disease with too much.  More does not equal better with fat soluble nutrients!

Topical Therapy

Shampoos, lotions, oils, grooming, ionizing bath treatments, oatmeal baths, proper timing of baths.  (Some dogs need weekly, some get worse with weekly, ask your vet!)  These all help.  Some contain prescription pharmaceuticals like hydrocortisone, diphenhydramine and pramoxine.  They help.

VirtuaVet Digs Deeper for the Pet Who Still Suffers Allergies

Sometimes you’ve “done everything.”  Next time on VirtuaVet, read about common mistakes people make when trying to figure out their pet’s allergies.  Then. after that, next week, VirtuaVet explores potentially toxic cosmetics and cleaning agents you may still be using.  Half of them are “green!”


VirtuaVet’s 4-Year-Old Staffordshire Terrier Finally Allergy Free, detailed Article on How to Perform Your Own Allergy Elimination Diet Trial at Home.

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