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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Myth Busters: The Allergic Pet Edition

A brown and white dog looking guilty

At Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic we enjoy a good myth-busting blog. It is so much fun to see common misconceptions debunked. We are no strangers to battling misinformation in our day-to-day job either, so we decided to embark on our own myth busting session specific to the allergic pet.

Common Myths About the Allergic Pet

When we sit down with pet parents at their animal’s appointments, we hear lots of common misconceptions. While we are sure that there are others, some of the most frequent myths that we must debunk include:

“My pet couldn’t be allergic to that, he’s been around it/eaten it his whole life.”

Allergies are part of the immune response. This means that repeated exposures are necessary to sensitize the body and create a reaction. We have all heard of the person who eats shellfish on a regular basis, but one time that lobster dinner ends up with a trip to the emergency room. Animals can and do develop allergies to things and foods that they are exposed to on a regular basis.

“My pet is on a grain free food, so she can’t have a food allergy.”

Contrary to popular belief, grains such as corn in pet food are rarely responsible for food allergies in animals. Most pet allergies to foods are due to protein sources such as chicken, beef, pork, or soy.

“I heard that you can do a blood test/cheek swab to find out what my pet is allergic to.”

While there are plenty of companies that will take your money and tell you what foods are a problem for your pet, there is simply no scientific data to back up the legitimacy of these tests. Research shows that the antibodies that these tests detect have very little reflection on what actually happens in the gut. To date, the best way to identify pet allergies to food is a hypoallergenic food trial.

“Since my pet is mostly, totally indoors, environmental allergies aren’t possible.”

Not all allergic pets have outdoor allergies. Dust, mold, and dander are common environmental allergens that lurk in all of our homes. Also, anyone who suffers from hay fever will attest to the fact that their outdoor allergies can bother them even when staying indoors.

“I haven’t ever seen a flea on my pets, so I don’t need flea prevention.”

Fleas haven’t become evolutionarily successful by making their presence obvious. These stealthy parasites can cause trouble even in small numbers, especially in animals who are allergic to their saliva. They can be notoriously difficult to find, especially in cats who groom themselves, and can find their way onto even indoor exclusive animals. Flea preventative is important for all pets.

Warding off Bad Information

The perpetuation of myths surrounding the allergic pet comes from well-meaning word of mouth, the advice of those with an interest in selling something, and, in the modern day, information on the Internet.

So how are you supposed to sort through the false information and find the good stuff? Be sure to:

  • Consider your source and any interest they may have in profiting
  • Ask for references to scientific studies
  • Remember that anecdotal evidence isn’t good enough for your pet
  • Ask us for advice– we promise that we have your pet’s best interest at heart

The allergic pet can be difficult enough to navigate without having to sort through a bunch of misinformation. Please remember that the staff at Animal Skin and Allergy Center is here for you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to give us a call with your questions!