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Pet Allergy Investigation Checklist

2010 November 16
by virtuavet
Chocolate Standard Poodle with smooth, bald patches of skin around his eyes and on the bridge of his nose

Where'd my face fur go?

Diagnosing an Allergic Pet Takes Medicine and Sleuthing

Work with your veterinarian to figure out your pet’s allergies.  If more than one pet in your household is allergic, do not become discouraged, about 50% of American pets are allergic.  It is probably not a poisonous horrible thing you did to your pets, it’s probably just that they are related by family, breed, or they are all in the affected 50%!

If it seems like your veterinarian wants to run a million tests, this checklist can help you keep track of the tests, and maybe reassure you that all the investigation is needed!

“I check the general health of a patient first, because back health or a disease and make allergies worse,” says Doc Truli.  “Then we ‘control the controllable’ with a food elimination diet, and give nutritional supplements to see if the allergy resolves.  Then we go into excluding common skin diseases and then finally, allergy testing and treatment.”

Pet Allergy Investigation Checklist

  • Thorough, thoughtful physical examination
  • Perfect flea prevention and treatment if present (If you can do this yourself, you may save a vet visit!  50% of pet dermatology specialist appointments turn out to be a flea problem!)
  • Most allergic pets have secondary skin infections that need to be treated so we can see what the condition is like when only the allergy is present
    • skin scrape cytology for mites (mange)
    • skin tape cytology for lice and yeast and bacterial counts
    • ear cytology for concomitant otitis (very common with skin problems)
  • CBC, Chemistry, Thyroid screening test, fecal parasite exam, heartworm test, for cats feline leukemia and feline aids test
  • Try Omega 3’s and Vitamin E
  • Allergy Elimination Diet (8-12 weeks). See VirtuaVet’s Detailed article on how to perform the food trial at home.
  • Lyme-sulfur dips in case of hidden mange or infections tests did not identify (tests are not perfect).
  • Skin surgical biopsy (usually tiny samples, can be done in non-sedated patient… usually.)
  • allergy blood serum tests and/or allergy skin testing (usually does require sedation, shaving the sides, and a dermatologist to correctly interpret the results.)

Your veterinarian will help you treat any secondary yeast, mite, or bacterial infections.  Your pet may need anti-itching oral or topical medication for comfort while the investigation takes the necessary months to complete.  If you discover another condition, such as hypothyroidism, get it treated.  Sometimes the body just needs some balancing in order to handle the allergies itself.

Next time on VirtuaVet: Are Common House Product Scents setting off your pet’s allergies?

Q: Why can’t I just use an anti histamine?

A: Only 10% of cats or dogs respond to antihistamines.

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