Benadryl helps pets with their allergies
Flea bite allergy is by far the most common cat allergy. However, it is rare in cats that are allergic to flea bites to actually see fleas! Atopic dermatitis is an allergy to environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites or mold spores. Depending on the allergen, the symptoms can only occur in spring or summer (pollen) or all year round (dust mites). Over time, the allergy season becomes longer and the symptoms become more pronounced. Food allergies are allergies to a certain protein in the food. A cat may be allergic to food ingredients such as beef, fish, wheat or eggs, or to additives such as preservatives or colorings, after having tolerated a food well for several years.
What are the symptoms of a cat with allergies?
Itching is by far the most common symptom in allergic cats. They rub or lick their face or paws, or scratch their face or neck. In some cats this can lead to hair loss without further lesions, in other cats it comes to crust formation and open wounds. Red or yellowish swellings or ulcers on the abdomen, hind legs, or face are other possible symptoms. In the case of food allergies, vomiting and / or diarrhea can also occur.
How do we diagnose cat allergies?
Cats with a flea bite allergy respond well to thorough flea control after 2-6 weeks. Food allergies are diagnosed using an elimination diet, in which feeding previously unused protein sources should lead to improvement after 4-6 weeks. If there is neither a flea bite nor a food allergy and any ectoparasites have been excluded, atopic dermatitis (environmental allergy) can be suspected. The allergens involved can be diagnosed with a skin test in which the hair on the side of the chest is shaved and the smallest amounts of allergens are injected into the skin. Skin reactions occur only in allergic cats and are assessed 15-30 minutes after the skin test. This skin test can be affected by drugs such as cortisone or antihistamines, so such drugs must be discontinued 2-8 weeks before performing the test.
For cats with a flea bite allergy, thorough, lifelong flea control is by far the most successful and best therapy. Occasionally, seriously ill cats need to be given additional tablets at short notice.
Cats with atopic dermatitis often respond well to tablets (fatty acids and antihistamines can be given for years without any adverse effects!), But some cats find it difficult to administer tablets day in and day out. Desensitization therapy with allergen concentrates is the only known specific therapy for atopic dermatitis. Injections are done weekly initially, then every 3-4 weeks and are usually given by the owner.
For cats with food allergies, the best therapy is to change their diet and avoid the allergenic protein.
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