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Home: Dog & Puppy Health: General Dog Health and Care:
Emergencies & First Aid # Allergic Reactions and Skin







leopui
K9 Maniac

Feb 20, 2002, 9:27 AM

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Dogs may have sudden allergic reactions to a variety of things including vaccines and insect stings. Urticaria (hives) is a generally non-life threatening reaction. Anaphylaxis can be fatal and needs to be treated immediately
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Urticaria (Hives) & Angioedema (Swelling of the Face)


Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a rare, life-threatening, immediate allergic reaction to something ingested or injected. If untreated, it results in shock, respiratory and cardiac failure, and death.



What types of agents can cause anaphylaxis?
Stinging insects, antibiotics, vaccines, certain hormones and medications, and foods can cause anaphylaxis in susceptible animals.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
The most common symptoms are the sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, coma and death. The animal's gums will be very pale, and the limbs will feel cold. The heart rate is generally very fast but the pulse is weak. There is no facial swelling.

How is anaphylaxis treated?
Anaphylaxis is an extreme emergency. If you think your pet is having an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately. Epinephrine should be given as soon as possible - we're talking within a few minutes. IV fluids, oxygen and other medications are given as needed.

Can anaphylaxis be prevented?
In general, there is no way to predict which animals may have an anaphylactic reaction to which substances. If a pet has already had a reaction, such as anaphylaxis, angioedema or hives, to a substance, the substance should be avoided. If your pet has ever had a reaction to a vaccine or medication, be sure your veterinarian knows and the information is placed in your pet's medical record.

If your pet has ever had a reaction to a vaccine, subsequent vaccinations should be given by your veterinarian. In some cases, certain vaccines may be excluded from your pet's vaccination regimen, or a different type of vaccine will be used.

If you vaccinate your own pets, you should have epinephrine available and know how to use it in case a reaction occurs. If your pet has an anaphylactic reaction after a vaccination, inject the proper dose of epinephrine and seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately.

Many vaccines contain antibiotics as preservatives. If your pet is allergic to an antibiotic, be sure to check all vaccines for the presence of that antibiotic before use.

For animals that are allergic to insect bites, such as bees, ask your veterinarian about getting a prescription for an 'epi-pen' and be sure to take the 'epi-pen' with you on any trips or hikes. An 'epi-pen' is a special syringe and needle filled with a single dose of epinephrine. If your pet has an anaphylactic reaction, inject the epinephrine using the 'epi-pen' and seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately.

Urticaria (Hives) & Angioedema (Swelling of the Face)
Urticaria and angioedema are hypersensitivity (or allergic) reactions to drugs, chemicals, something eaten, or even sunlight.



What are the symptoms of urticaria and angioedema?
In urticaria, small bumps occur within the skin. Often the hair will stand up over these swellings. Sometimes they itch. In angioedema, we see swelling of the face, especially the muzzle and around the eyes. Sometimes the swelling is so severe, the animal cannot open its eyes. Angioedema often results in itching. Angioedema and urticaria generally develop within 20 minutes of being exposed to the allergen (substance to which the animal is allergic).

In general, both urticaria and angioedema are not life-threatening and will go away by themselves. Rarely, the swelling in angioedema can affect the throat and make breathing difficult.

How are urticaria and angioedema treated?
Antihistamines are generally the best treatment for angioedema and urticaria. If severe, steroids are sometimes given. If respiration is affected, epinephrine is administered.

Can urticaria and angioedema be prevented?
In general, there is no way to predict which animals may develop urticaria or angioedema as a result of exposure to a certain substance. If a pet has already had a reaction, such as anaphylaxis, angioedema or hives, to a substance, the substance should be avoided. If your pet has ever had a reaction to a vaccine or medication, be sure your veterinarian knows and the information is placed in your pet's medical record.

If your pet has ever had a reaction to a vaccine, subsequent vaccinations should be given by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will probably administer an antihistamine prior to vaccination and have you remain in the office for 20-30 minutes after the vaccination, so you are right there if your pet has a reaction. In some cases, certain vaccines may be excluded from your pet's vaccination regimen, or a different type of vaccine will be used.

Many vaccines contain antibiotics as preservatives. If your pet is allergic to an antibiotic, be sure to check all vaccines for the presence of that antibiotic before use.

If your pet has developed urticaria or angioedema from an insect bite, you may want to discuss various options with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may give you a prescription for an 'epi-pen'. An 'epi-pen' is a special syringe and needle filled with a single dose of epinephrine. If your pet has an anaphylactic reaction or severe angioedema, inject the epinephrine using the 'epi-pen' and seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately. Be sure to take the 'epi-pen' with you on any trips or hikes.




LEO PUI
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