Animal Clinic of Kalispell - August 2019




A Reality Check About Pet Allergies

might have stopped your neighbor’s dog from itching, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for your four-legged best friend.

What causes pet allergies?

This is something I am asked a lot, especially around this time of year. Another common question is “Why are we seeing pet allergies more often?” To answer that, I suppose it is possible that something may be causing

Nationwide, one of the biggest sources of dissatisfaction between vets and clients is unsuccessful allergy treatment. Clients get upset because their dog or cat isn’t getting any better, so they turn to someone else for help,

animals to suffer from allergies more frequently. Or it could be that pet owners are getting better at recognizing allergies. After a little digging, I find there’s a lot of misinformation online about pet allergies. The most common dogma, if you’ll excuse the pun, is food. If your pet is suffering from allergies and you look up their symptoms, nine times out of 10, some pet website will insist food is to blame. But food isn’t the only cause of pet allergies. In fact, it’s far from the most common cause!

or they give up altogether. We try to alleviate this problem by prioritizing communication and we don’t sugar coat it. We tell clients that we may have to work through many diagnostics and treatments over months and even years. Dealing with allergies can be a nightmare until you find a treatment that is effective. I recently worked with a dog who had been itchy for six years! And that’s human years, not dog years. The owners had gone to other clinics, found things that seemed to work for a

The thing about pet allergies

is they are incredibly frustrating to diagnose.

little while, but would always stop working. Either they were getting a drug that just didn’t happen to be effective, or the dog needed more than one medication for a longer time period. Our goal is always the long-term view of the pet’s health. Things aren’t going to be fixed tomorrow or next week, but we have long-term goals, like how are they in a month, or three or six months. Thankfully, even though pet allergies can be a pain to deal with, we have lots of tools in our toolbox to take care of them. We have medications like apoquel, cytopoint antibody therapy, low-allergen foods, hypoallergenic foods, shampoos, antibiotics, and even steroids available. And to make life better, we have a great relationship with Dr. Miller, who can consult on really difficult cases. Pet allergies can be tricky, but they’re a problem I enjoy solving with a little patience.

I have practiced long enough to see great positive strides with regards to diagnosing and treating allergies. Recently, I

struck up a new relationship with a veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Rose Miller. I’ve been communicating with Dr. Miller for a while, and this past June she came to visit the clinic. We hit it off right away — she talks as fast as I do! During her visit, Dr. Miller and I started talking about pet allergies. She told me that in her practice, 80% of pet allergy cases are related to environmental allergens. Only 20% of her patients suffered allergies because of their food. The thing about pet allergies is they are always incredibly frustrating. Pets nearly always require many rechecks and medications for life. Not every pet behaves the same way when there’s something wrong. Allergies might be caused by food, pollen, airborne allergens, infections, or parasites, and pets can react similarly to different causes. Getting a certain kind of medicine



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