Just an itch or does your pet have allergies?

Posted on April 22, 2010 under Pet Health & Safety

By: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager

La La the Chihuahua watch dog looks out the window.It was in the middle of the night, just as I had dozed off into oblivion under my soft, down duvet that my miniature teacup Chihuahua, La La, awoke me—as she often does, to alert me that it’s time to go potty, and nonetheless at 3:00 am.

La La, I’ve found, can sometimes be placated just long enough for me to fall back asleep, forego her urge and cuddle down beside me, but this time she would not let up—in fact, she was frantic.

I sighed a deep 3:00 am sigh, and flipped on the switch as she pawed and wiggled around the bed incessantly. But when the lights came on, I was terrified at what I saw. My tiny, 3-pound Chihuahua was scratching at her face in agony and her entire little head had swelled to two times its normal size. In fact, my little girl looked more like a puffy pug than an apple-headed Chi Chi.

I immediately called a family friend who works as a veterinary technician. She advised me to rush La La to an emergency clinic and call ahead to let them know we were coming.

Although it may sound odd, it’s not uncommon for pets to suffer from allergic reactions just as we humans do, and the symptoms are often remarkably similar to ours.

In La La’s case, it was determined she was likely allergic to a bee sting, spider bite or a vaccination. But other common pup and kitty allergies include contact allergens (touching), inhalant allergens (breathing in), ingested, and sub dermal (which are caused by injected medicine.)

Although the latter is less common, all are potentially serious and should be acknowledged by a licensed veterinarian as soon as they are noticed. Treatment and diagnosis for pets’ allergies are also much the same as in you or I.

Your dog or cat may develop rashes and itching, watering eyes, sneezing, coughing, swelling in the face and sniffling.

Food allergies are among the most prevalent in pets, and can often take anywhere from seven to ten days to manifest. Because of this, owners may not know what is wrong with their pet, and often don’t even consider that their pet may have been allergic to something it ate.

After that itchy, swollen, fateful night with La La in the ER, I learned to never ignore her quest for my attention. More-often-than-not, our pets are trying to tell us something when they won’t calm down—and in this case, it could have been life-threatening.

So next time your fur baby is acting odd or showing symptoms of allergies, call your vet stat. It may be the difference between life and death.