What is an Allergic Reaction?
An allergic reaction is the body’s hypersensitive response to a foreign substance or material. For animals, a foreign substance may include flea saliva (often causing allergic reaction such as flea bite dermatitis), pollen (causing allergies in spring), insect bites/stings and even certain foods.
These substances are referred to as allergens. In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E. These antibodies then cause certain cells called mast cells to release chemicals (such as histamine) into the animal’s bloodstream against the invading allergens.
Allergies can also aggravate other conditions for an animal such as sinusitis, ear infections or Asthma. Different skin conditions such as eczema and rashes are also caused by Allergic Reactions. Allergy related symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and smell may affect the animal and cause much discomfort.
Help for Allergic Reactions
Any animal showing signs of an allergic reaction (biting, itching, scratching, redness on the skin, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea or difficulty breathing) should be taken to the vet immediately for a proper diagnosis. You may also notice that your cat is over-grooming or your dog is licking his or her paws raw (it may well be experiencing allergies).
Superficial skin allergies are likely to improve greatly upon the removal of fleas. Diphenhydramine and Chlorpheniramine are both commonly prescribed medications – used by vets to treat allergic reactions and allergies in cats and dogs. Be aware that many medications prescribed are immuno-suppressants and antihistamines – and may be accompanied by side effects.
Steroids (often prescribed to animals for allergy treatment) can cause weight gain, increased thirst, increased urination and increased aggression.
Also - allergies have an uncanny tendency of recurring, so it is always best to select a treatment plan that will address allergies in the long term.
Natural herbal and homeopathic remedies can be used to address allergies in the short term and in the long-term! Inula helenium (Elecampane) has been used by herbalists for centuries to treat coughs and Asthma (often side effects of an allergic reaction).
Althea officinalis (Marshmallow) helps to reduce all types of inflammation, while Galium aperine (Cleavers) has been used for many centuries as a cleansing tonic to assist in the treatment of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and allergic dermatitis. Biochemic tissue salts also have wonderful homeopathic benefits - Mag. Phos, Kali. mur, Arsen. Alb, and Graphites gently support the animal body and help to decongest airways, decrease swollen eyes and help stop sneezing!