Most people are quite familiar with the classic symptoms resulting from allergies in humans, such as sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, along with nasal and sinus congestion. This is because about 1 out of 5 people suffer from allergies, which ranks allergies as one of the most common medical problems seen in humans. Similar to humans, dogs and cats suffer from allergies too! Some studies indicate that as many as 1 out of 10 pets are affected by this chronic condition. If you suspect that your dog or cat has allergies, consult your veterinarian to discuss testing and treatment options. Your best friend can live without the discomfort of allergies and the serious complications of long term use of steroids.
Dogs and cats do not have to suffer as a result of allergies caused by different substances in their environment - pollens from weeds, trees and grasses, molds, insects, foods and even human skin. We utilize a laboratory that has developed a method of serum allergy testing that is unique in accurately identifying the culprit allergens that are the causes of all that scratching, licking, and ear irritation in dogs and cats. VARL Liquid Gold serum allergy tests will help you successfully identify and desensitize your allergic dogs and cats to the different allergens that are making them miserable. This is the only serum allergy test of its kind. Liquid Gold is specifically engineered to eliminate false positive results while not introducing equally detestable false negatives, giving your veterinarian an accurate list of what bothers your pet. Liquid Gold hyposensitization results have also been shown to be better than intradermal skin testing (see below). To you, this means greater success with allergen immunotherapy … and deep satisfaction.
What causes allergies?
Allergies are an inheritable disease that is a result of the body defense mechanism (the immune system) abnormally reacting to certain common substances in the environment. Symptoms may be seasonal or year round. Normally the immune system is responsible for the body's ability to fight off infections. When the body detects a potentially dangerous foreign substance, like bacteria or virus, the immune system is marshalled and it makes preparation to go to war against the foreign substance. One of the arsenals the immune system immediately begins to manufacture is a special type of proteins called antibodies. These antibodies are like self guided target-specific destroyers. They travel through the blood until they find the foreign substance, attach themselves to it and render the substance harmless. In the case of allergies, the immune system of a pet that is allergic thinks that it is being invaded by a foreign substance when the pet is exposed to certain substances in the environment. These substances are called allergens and are usually pollens of weeds, trees and grasses, house dust, insects, humans and animal dander, molds, foods and chemicals.
The allergic dog or cat then makes a special type of antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE antibodies) against these substances. Whenever the pet comes in contact with these allergens the IgE antibodies attach themselves to them. When this happens a series of chemical reactions occur in the body that result in the release of mediators that cause inflammation and itching. The allergic itching and scratching and general discomfort observed in the allergic dog or cat is the result of these mediators.
Signs of Allergies
The most common sign of allergy in dogs and cats is itching, manifested by scratching, rubbing, licking and chewing. The scratching and itching that are due to allergies are always more intense than normal and may lead to varying degrees of hair loss and rashes. The rashes often represent infection. In rare cases, vomiting and/or diarrhea may be present especially if the dog or cat suffers from food allergy. In some cases allergic dogs and cats will have no other symptom except asthma. Others will show hay fever-like symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose. In a good number of cats, skin lesions without associated itching are the only clinical signs of allergy.
How are allergies diagnosed?
Finding out what are causing the allergies in a dog or cat always takes careful detective work. One method that can be used to find out what substances your pet would react to is by skin testing. It involves shaving off an area on the pet and skillfully injecting extracts from suspected allergens under the skin of the dog or cat. Within a half hour, a wheal (round bump) and erythema (reddening) will form on the skin from each extract to which the pet is allergic. Alternatively, your veterinarian may simply take a small amount of blood sample from your pet and send it to Veterinary Allergy Reference Labratory for a complete Liquid Gold allergy blood test. The Liquid Gold allergy blood test for dogs and cats is a sensitive laboratory blood test which will identify the different allergic substances that are responsible for your pet's allergies. The VARYL allergy blood test searches for and identifies each of those special allergy producing anti-bodies (IgE antibodies) that may be present in your pet's blood. By accurately finding and measuring the amount of allergen specific IgE antibodies present in the blood sample, the liquid Gold allergy blood test is able to identify the different substances causing your pet's allergies - an essential first step on the way to getting your pet well.
Treatment for Allergies
While avoidance of the substances identified as causing the allergies in your pet is the best form of treatment, it is not always practical. A strict flea control program and removing foods positively identified during VARL blood test from the diet can help control both flea and food allergies. Allergies due to pollens, molds, dander, etc. are almost impossible to avoid. Drugs such as cortico-steroids and antihistamines can be valuable in temporarily relieving symptoms but the prolonged usage of cortico-steroids can cause serious systemic side effects. The most practical and clinically preferred form of treatment when your dog or cat is diagnose with allergies is hyposensitization. It is very safe and cost-effective. The initial cost may seem to be high, but the program will, in the long run, cost you less than any other form of treatment.
Your dog or cat can be rendered immune to the various substances detected by the Liquid Gold allergy blood test. This is achieved by vaccinating your pet against the identified substances, much like children are vaccinated against childhood diseases.
Now it is easier than ever, with both the original injectable allergy serum, and a new oral serum to choose from. The major difference is that allergy hyposensitization takes a longer time - 6 to 9 months, or longer in certain cases. Approximately 60% of pets hyposensitized will be controlled without the need for any cortisone. An additional 20% of the pets are helped by hyposensitization but may need occasional steroid or antihistamine drugs ( at much lower dosage than if not hyposensitized) during the worst of the allergy season. Successful hyposensitization is highly dependent on an accurate diagnosis and a faithful adherence to the prescribed schedule of treatment.