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Emergency Animal Hospital Warns Pet Owners About the Dangers of Pet Allergies

March 28, 2012 - Austin, TX

Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin is warning pet owners about the dangers of allergies in pets. According to the practice, the emergency vet clinic frequently treats pets for allergy symptoms. Cat and dog symptoms may vary depending on the type of allergen and the animal's allergen tolerance. In general symptoms caused by exposure to allergens associated with pollen, food, and fleas are characterized by excessive scratching, rubbing and itching and without proper treatment can lead to secondary infections caused by bacteria and yeast may occur, characterized by dander, odor, red bumps on the skin to large exudative areas known as "hot spots." Insect bites and stings can cause symptoms such as localized swelling at the bite site, mild systemic reactions which are associated with rubbing at the face, facial swelling, and hives or sometimes severe anaphylactic reactions which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty, coagulation problems, shock and possibly death.

Dr. Scott I. Johnson a board certified emergency veterinarian at Emergency Animal Hospital of NW Austin (EAHNWA) is working to raise awareness about allergies in pets. The emergency animal hospital often treats pets for allergies, including hot spots, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma and mild systemic to severe anaphylactic reactions.

"Central Texas, especially in the springtime, is notorious for allergies," said Dr. Johnson. "Many of the same allergen triggers in humans can affect pets as well. Cedar, grass and mold can all affect pets, just like they affect humans, as can pollen, mites, insects and dander. When the temperatures begin to rise, mosquitoes and fleas as well as bees, wasps and yellow jackets begin to appear as well."

Humans typically respond to allergies with sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose or coughing. Pets respond differently, typically itching and scratching at their skin. According to Dr. Johnson, common cat and dog symptoms include itching at the face, ears, and rump, and licking at the paws. More severe reactions are characterized by facial swelling, hives, respiratory difficulty, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and shock.

"Initially, it may be difficult to distinguish a cat's symptoms from natural grooming," said Dr. Johnson. "However, if a cat vomits hairballs, has patches of lost hair, or skin lesions, the cat is often struggling with allergies. The same warning signs are applicable to dogs symptoms."

Without proper treatment, pets can excessively scratch, leading to secondary skin infections. Dr. Johnson says that dander, odor, red bumps, and scabs on the skin are all signs of a secondary infection. Sometimes the pet bothers the area so severely that a large severely inflamed exudative area "hot spot" can develop.

Pet owners who are concerned about their pet's allergies should speak with the veterinarian. Veterinary intradermal testing (IDT) is an allergy skin test used by veterinary dermatologists to determine a pet's sensitivity to a variety of environmental allergens, including dander, insects, mites, mold and pollen. According to Dr. Johnson, allergy shots or oral drops may help soothe an animal's reaction to allergens.

"With animals, just like in humans, it's important to remember that allergies are never 'cured,'" said Dr. Johnson. "Instead, our goal is to reduce the severity of clinical dog and cat symptoms, including itching and scratching, by 80 to 90%. Ideally, this reduction is achieved 80-90% of the time."

Dr. Johnson stressed that many common pet allergies may also be caused by allergic responses to common pet food ingredients, such as grains. An isolation diet, under veterinary supervision, may be required to determine the source of the allergen.

Pet owners with pets experiencing severe allergic reactions may seek treatment from an after hours veterinarian at one of the EAHNWA locations. An after hours veterinarian is available from 6:00pm to 7:00am, Monday to Friday, and is available 24-hours a day on the weekends. More information about pet care is available on the hospital website at

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Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin
Austin, TX


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