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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

What To Do? Is it a Pet Poisoning or Allergic Reaction

A dog looking guilty

When your pet is in distress, it is easy to panic. For some, this means turning to the Internet to try and decipher what is happening and what to do. The Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic wants to remind you, though, that if you have an established veterinary care team (or even if you don’t) you have some of the best resources available to assess your pet’s situation, right at your fingertips.

Many problems are hard to differentiate based on symptoms alone. Instead of sitting at home asking online forums if you might be dealing with a pet poisoning or an allergic reaction, turn to the expert – your veterinary staff. 

Allergic Reactions Pets

Did you realize that pets can have allergic reactions to things just like people can? At The Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic, we are all too familiar with allergies in pets. From fleas to foods to grasses, pollens, and dust, animals can be allergic to many different things. Exposure either via direct contact, inhalation, or ingestion can result in an allergic reaction. 

Allergic reactions can range from very mild to severe. The release of histamine from the body’s cells into the bloodstream can result in a variety of symptoms. While humans tend to experience anaphylaxis of the respiratory tract, dogs and cats most often have gastrointestinal signs during anaphylaxis. 

Symptoms of allergic reactions in pets may include:

  • Hives
  • Facial swelling
  • Itchy, red, or warm skin
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapse

Potential Poisonings

Poisonings in pets can happen when your pet ingests or is exposed topically to something toxic in harmful qualities. Toxic events can vary tremendously depending on what the toxin was, the quantity of the ingestion or exposure, and the weight of the exposed pet. 

One of the most common pet poisonings is chocolate ingestion. A large dog who eats a small amount of milk chocolate may experience some vomiting or diarrhea, while a small dog who eats a large amount of baking chocolate could experience heart arrhythmias, seizures, and even death. 

Some toxins, like the artificial sweetener Xylitol or antifreeze can have fatal results. 

Pet poisonings can vary in urgency and severity. Prevention of exposure to toxic substances is key, but when exposures do happen, quick thinking is critical. Your swift action to seek veterinary care can make a big difference in the outcome for your pet. Calling the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be helpful: (888) 426-4435.

Pet Poisoning or Allergic Reaction?

The devil’s in the details when it comes to deciding if you are experiencing a pet poisoning or allergic reaction. Both can appear quite similarly, but the treatment can be very different. 

If your pet is sick or you are suspicious of an allergic reaction or toxin exposure, it is best to contact a veterinary professional right away. Diagnostics, supportive care, and specific treatments are often warranted. 

It isn’t your job to differentiate between a poisoning and allergic reaction. It isn’t always an easy task and that is why it is a differentiation best made by those who have the training and experience to assess the situation. Your friends, family, and Internet forums may have a lot of answers, but some are best left to professionals who care for your pet.