Anaphylaxis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

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Anaphylaxis in dogs is a severe allergic reaction that can result in anaphylactic shock, respiratory or cardiac failure, or even death. The reaction can be localized to a certain part of the body or be more general and involve the shut down of major organs. Because almost any substance can cause an allergic reaction in dogs, anaphylaxis can be unpredictable. However, anaphylactic reactions are often triggered by a known allergen that a dog has come into contact with before. If you spot the symptoms of anaphylaxis in your dog, seek medical attention right away. The condition can be life-threatening, but most dogs that receive medication in time make a full recovery.

Symptoms Of Anaphylaxis In Dogs

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The first organ to be affected by anaphylactic shock in dogs is usually the liver, which causes extreme upset to the digestive system. Unlike humans, dogs may not exhibit signs of swelling in the face or throat in some cases. Here are symptoms of a severe allergic reaction that you should look out for and immediately seek medical attention if you spot them.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Cold limbs
  • Excessive salivating or drooling
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate or a weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Coma

Some cases of anaphylaxis are less extreme and more localized. Though these symptoms are less severe, they still require veterinary care and can develop into anaphylactic shock with repeated exposure to the allergen. Here are a few less intense signs of allergic reaction that you should look out for.

  • Skin problems like hives, swelling, bumps, rashes, or itchy areas
  • Congestion
  • A dry, chronic cough
  • Difficulty breathing during exercise
  • Vomiting after eating certain foods

Causes Of Anaphylaxis In Dogs

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Nearly any foreign substance introduced to the body can cause an anaphylactic reaction in dogs. The most common allergens that cause anaphylaxis in dogs are the same as those that cause anaphylaxis in humans. These include insect bites and stings, food or chemicals used to prepare food, injections of medication or vaccines, and other types of medication.

Treatments For Anaphylaxis In Dogs

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Because any foreign substance can potentially cause an anaphylactic reaction in dogs, it is difficult to prevent an initial occurrence; however, once an allergen has been identified, it is important to avoid repeated exposure. Even allergens that cause minor reactions initially can lead to anaphylaxis over time if a dog is exposed again.

Treatment is considered a medical emergency. The first thing a veterinarian will do is remove the allergen if it is still present–for example, a bee’s stinger. Your veterinarian will then work to stabilize your dog. In cases of anaphylactic shock, your veterinarian may inject adrenaline and give your dog antihistamines and hydrocortisone to get the reaction under control. Your dog may also need oxygen and intravenous fluid to avoid a drop in blood pressure. Once your dog is stabilized, they will have to be strictly monitored for a day or two.

If your dog has ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine or injection, it is important that this information goes into your dog’s medical file and that you inform your veterinarian of these past reactions. Your vet will likely change the type of medication or exclude certain vaccinations. For food allergens, it is important that you discuss changing your dog’s diet and make sure to know exactly what ingredients or chemicals are used in the food your dog eats.

For dogs that are allergic to insect bites and stings, you may wish to ask your veterinarian about an Epipen, which is a small syringe that contains epinephrine. You can carry an Epipen with you on walks or when your dog is outside and use it should an anaphylactic reaction occur. You will still need to seek veterinary attention immediately should you need to use the Epipen.

Has your dog ever suffered from anaphylaxis? How did you treat it? Let us know in the comments below!

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