You’ve probably heard the old adage: “You are what you eat.” But can the foods you love cause the dry, scaly, itchy skin that signals an eczema outbreak? Yep. Our allergy experts explain the facts about diet and eczema.
There are a number of signs that can help you confirm whether your pet suffers from allergies. However, it is important to keep in mind that animals’ allergy symptoms are often quite distinct from human allergy symptoms. Whereas we are likely to have itchy, watery eyes and runny noses, our pets are more likely to experience irritation of the skin when exposed to environmental allergens. Though they may sneeze while experiencing allergies, pets are not likely to sneeze or cough like we often do when our allergies act up but instead are likely to be found scratching or licking their ears, eyes, or skin when allergies attack. Skin near their tails is often irritated when animals suffer from allergies. You may also notice red or scabbed skin on pets suffering from allergies, which could result from chronic scratching.
In addition to allergies that tend to be seasonal, our pets, like us, may also be allergic to certain foods. Symptoms associated with food allergies are more likely to resemble our own symptoms to food allergies. Vomiting, diarrhea, and an inflamed throat are likely to occur in your pet if they have ingested a food to which they are allergic. This type of allergy may require more immediate medical attention than seasonal allergies.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Seasonally, our pets are often allergic to pollens, dust, mold, perfumes, cleaning products, rubber, and plastic – just like we are – but also often succumb to flea saliva. Prescription drugs and certain foods, such as beef, chicken, pork, wheat, soy, and corn can also cause allergic reactions when ingested at any time. Though the severity of symptoms associated with food allergies are not likely to go unnoticed for long, it is also important to recognize seasonal allergies in our pets because the scratching that tends to occur while our pets suffer from these allergies can lead to bleeding to infection. Animals can also suffer secondary infections, such as yeast or bacterial infections, which can lead to significant discomfort.
Veterinarians can do allergy tests to determine if your pet experiences allergies, and if so, to what your pet may be allergic. Intradermal skin tests, like those used in people, are a common way to identify pet allergies to environmental allergens. Food allergies are more laborious to diagnose, usually requiring a special 3-month protein diet. Animal doctors can also provide treatments for these allergies, including allergy shots, or immunotherapies, which act much like allergy treatments that people use. There are also specific dietary supplements that have been shown to help allergy symptoms. Other treatment options include antihistamines, antibiotics, and corticosteroids.
There are a number of preventative measures that can also be taken to reduce the chances that your pets suffer from allergies, or to minimize their discomfort when allergies do strike. Bathing your pets regularly can rid them of irritating allergens. Cleaning pets’ bedding and vacuuming regularly are other effective ways of eliminating allergens from your pets’ environments. Using unscented litter that is dust-free can help minimize allergies in cats. Preventative flea medications can protect pets from common flea allergies. Many veterinarians suggest topical or oral flea medications be taken regularly, or at least during seasons when fleas are likely to be a problem in your area. Removing the potential allergen is the most effective way to prevent allergies in animals, just as in people.