What is an allergy, how does it manifest itself in cats and what can be done to treat it?
Dealing with allergies can be very frustrating and have a significant impact on quality of life. Sometimes the conclusion is that the case is lost, and the animal is treated for life with drugs that suppress inflammation like steroids. But in many other cases, our hairy friends can be relieved with good medicine, patience and perseverance.
What happens inside the body
The seven years of biology and veterinary studies have been a fascinating journey to distant areas of molecular biology, genetics, anatomy, physiology ... a journey into life itself. During this journey, I discovered biological systems that are amazingly beautiful and complex. The one that captured my brain and my imagination more than any other system was the immune system. In order to understand a bit about the so-called allergy phenomenon, you first have to know the immune system a bit.
Within our blood system and our pets there are blood cells that protect the body against foreign invaders. They produce proteins called antibodies to neutralize any intruder.
When an intruder needs neutralization, the body enters the war and fights with many weapons. During the battle we feel the side effects that accompany it such as pain, fever, redness, cough, runny nose, itching, pus and more. The immune system is really amazing, but what can it do? I am not talking about those cases in which the invader overtakes the victim. This is the nature of the world, and in war as in war ... sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
Fire on our forces
We help our immune system as much as we can during illness, with antibiotics and other medications. The problem is when the immune system fights against friends instead of enemies.
There is a group of diseases that are caused by the immune system getting confused and attacking parts of our bodies. A sort of case of "fire on our forces." Such is rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus (lupus) and many other diseases. Another type of problem is when the immune system responds harshly to a non-dangerous intruder, and the patient's response is suffering. Just, unnecessarily. That's what's called an allergy.
Imagine a situation in which a Jordanian tourist arrives at the border with Israel and looks a bit suspicious. In response, Israel drops an atom bomb on a trustworthy basis and destroys half of the Middle East, including itself. This is an extreme example of a difficult situation in which a person eats peanut, and he dies within minutes of anaphylactic allergic attack. Most of the allergies we know are manifested in diarrhea, itching, swelling, etc. The friendly invader that caused the immune system to go crazy is called an "allergen". A microscopic amount of allergen is sufficient to stimulate the allergic reaction.
Allergy in cats
Allergen cats can invade in three ways:
1. Through digestion with food
2. Through the respiratory system with air
3. Through the skin in direct contact.
Signs of allergy can include diarrhea, vomiting, skin swelling and redness and itching in the fur.
No one knows why a particular animal is allergic to a particular allergen, another animal is allergic to something else, and a third animal is not allergic at all.
What to do?
The therapist's first challenge is to find out exactly what triggers the allergy in the animal. You can often get on with it through trial and error. For example, it is known that the most common allergen in dogs is the saliva of fleas. If the dog and its environment are well treated against fleas, and the signs of allergy disappear, we succeed. If it continues, try something else. If you suspect an allergy from something in the food try different foods with very limited vehicle to discover the allergic component in food.
In severe cases where you can not find out exactly what triggers an allergy in the patient, the allergen is diagnosed by an exposure test. Using a small needle, insert about 50 different allergens at different points in the skin, and wait to see which allergen will cause a reaction in the skin. Sometimes there are more than one. Once you know what causes the allergic reaction, there are two options. At best, contact between the animal and the allergen that affects it can be prevented. For example, if the allergen is found to come from cypress trees, avoid walking with the dog near the cypresses. In the worst case, the animal is allergic to something that is very difficult to avoid, such as the house fly, and then try to treat the animal with immunotherapy. The animal is exposed to the allergen in controlled doses by means of a series of injections, and in simple words it is "used" to the allergen.
Dealing with allergies can be very frustrating and have a significant impact on quality of life. Sometimes the conclusion is that the case is lost, and the animal is treated for life with drugs that suppress inflammation like steroids. But in many other cases, our hairy friends can be relieved with good medicine, patience and perseverance. Too often we give up too soon, which is a pity.