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Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain substances that are inhaled, ingested or come in contact with the skin. Most symptoms in pets are caused by allergens that contact the skin (i.e. direct contact or aerosolized pollens, etc.). Some allergy symptoms are seasonal and only need to be treated for short periods of time while others will require year round therapy. One of the most important things to keep in mind with allergies is that controlling symptoms is our goal, there is no cure for allergies.


Pruritus (scratching at the skin, especially the face & paws)

Increased licking of the body, concentrated on the paws

Conjuncitivitis (red eyes)

Red, inflamed skin

Recurrent bacterial dermatitis

Recurrent ear infections

Food Allergy/Hypersensitivity

Food allergies in pets aren’t as common as contact or environmental allergies. A food allergy may produce signs related to the digestive system like intermittent soft stool or signs related to the skin like itchiness, chronic ear infections, irritated muzzle and persistent anal gland problems. There is no accurate blood or skin test to determine whether your pet has a food allergy. The best way to determine a food allergy is to change diets. There are several approaches to dietary manipulation:

Novel protein diet – diets like IVD Venison & Potato,

Purina LA or Eukanuba Response diets use protein

sources that aren’t in most commercial foods,

therefore the pet should not be sensitized to

these new proteins and their clinical signs

should resolve.

Hydrolyzed protein diet – examples

would be Purina HA or Hill’s z/d-u.

These diets reduce the protein size to such

small particles that the immune system

doesn’t recognize them and can’t mount a

response to them.

No diet is foolproof and must be fed exclusively for 8-10 weeks. This means NO TREATS, RAWHIDES, FLAVORED MEDICATIONS (i.e. chewable medications, some heartworm preventatives), PEOPLE FOOD, etc. during the food trial. This is a vital component to the success of the trial because if your pet is sensitive to an ingredient in one of these sources even a small amount will evoke a reaction. A good alternative to treats would be kibbles of their diet or canned diets that fit the plan.

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