Allergies in Pets


Allergies are caused by the body’s own immune system reacting against an allergen. Pets can be allergic to their food, fleas, inhaled allergens, and contact allergens. Occasionally, pets are allergic to multiple allergens.


Scratching, face rubbing, ear infections, skin infections, chewing feet, vomiting, and rashes are all signs of allergies. If left untreated, these will progress to hair loss, skin yeast infections, and permanent ear damage. Without finding the source of the allergy and removing it, the skin condition will continue to re-occur.


  1. Treat the individual allergy flare-ups as they occur with anti-histamines, corticosteroids, antibiotics, medicated baths, topical flea control, and fatty acids. Corticosteroids achieve the best  and the fastest results; however, they do have side effects if used long term. The side effects include increased food intake (leading to obesity), increased water consumption, decreased resistance to infection, increased urination, adrenal gland damage (leading to Cushing’s disease), diabetes, liver damage, kidney damage, panting, pancreatitis, and stomach ulcers. With short term use we usually only see increased water consumption and increased urination.
  2. Attempt to find the source of the allergen and eliminate it or hyposensitize the patient to it. The search often is frustrating and will take time.

A. Step 1- flea control to rule out a flea allergy is the first step. Apply once a month directly to the skin/ or oral medication with a full meal. We recommend Comfortis/ Trifexis for allergy pets that are bathed frequently, or Activyl as a topical flea product.

B. Step 2- Food Trial, This is performed with either a novel protein and carbohydrate source such as Royal Canine Rabbit and Potato formula, Iams Kangaroo and Oat, or a food engineered with proteins and carbohydrates too small for the immune system to recognize. The food trial must be maintained for at least 8 weeks. It takes that long for the original allergen to leave the body. During the food trial, there are to be NO TREATS! These include rawhides, bones, pigs ears, etc. If these are given to the animal, the food trial will be jeopardized.


If 100% improvement is accomplished, then food is the only allergen. It could be multiple foods such as corn and beef or just once such as rice.

If some improvement is noted, but not 100%, then your pet likely has inhalant and food allergies.

If no improvement is found, then we have ruled out food as the allergen source. Now, we must continue to search for the contact or inhaled allergen.

C. Step 3- Inhaled allergen blood screen. This blood screen attempts to determine what your pet is allergic to out of 40 common Pacific Northwest allergens.. Once the allergens are found, anti-allergy injections specifically designed for your pets’ allergen profile are made. Inhaled allergy testing and treatment is effective approximately 70% of the time. The cost of allergy injections varies with the number of allergens.

D. Step 4- RESPIT- Regionally Specific Immunotherapy. RESPIT has similar results to allergy testing, however, it is at a lower initial cost. Developed by a board certified dermatologist, RESPIT includes 20 of the most common allergies in our area.


Whether you choose treatment option 1 or 2, allergies are frustrating, expensive, and a long-term problem. Please do not become discouraged if immediate results are not obtained. Often times it takes several months to achieve satisfactory results. Our goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

E. If steps A, B, C, and D all fail, then we revert back to step 1. At this point we recommend trying a drug called Atopica as it has fewer long term side effects as compared to corticosteroids.