Allergic Reactions in Your Pet: What to watch out for

This poor guy came to AHDC after his owners noticed his face and eyes were swelling. We do not know what caused the swelling, but after treatment by the AHDC team, this patient’s face returned to normal. Severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylactic reactions, can occur in dogs and cats (more common in dogs). The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction is swelling around the eyes, muzzle/lips, severe itchiness and bumps that form under the skin. Boxers and pitbulls are most often affected with the type of reaction that forms large bumps under the skin. In our patient to the left, note the swelling around his eyes and lips. In addition to facial swelling and skin bumps, other signs include fast heart rate, excitability, pale gums, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and most concerning, sudden collapse. There are many causes of severe allergic reactions, although sometimes the cause is never found for an individual patient. Some causes include insect bites or stings, snake bites, fabric softeners or other chemicals or even some food ingredients. Anaphylactic reactions, although quite uncommon, are potentially life-threatening and need medical attention immediately. Once your pet arrives at the hospital, they will likely be taken to the treatment area to immediately be assessed by one of our veterinarians. One of our veterinarians will likely give injections of a steroid, an antihistamine and an antacid (it is very important to let the veterinary team know if your pet is currently taking any medications especially a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or aspirin). The steroid and the antihistamine will stop the swelling and itchiness. The antacid protects the GI tract during this shocking condition in the pet. In severe cases, the veterinary staff may need to place an IV catheter and give IV fluids. The allergic reaction will likely start to resolve in the first 1-2 hours and completely over the next 24 hours. The veterinarian will likely prescribe some medications to give to the pet for the next few days at home. It is possible for an allergic reaction of this type to happen again if they are exposed to the cause, but cases in which the cause is unknown, may never have it occur again.