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When most people think of pet allergies, they probably think about people who are allergic to pet dander. However, animals can have allergies just like we do. This can really confuse clients when it comes to symptoms and treatments. These strategies will help you guide clients while they deal with their pets' symptoms.
Allergies in Dogs
Allergic reactions show up in ways people expect, including itching, watery eyes, sneezing, inflammation and hives. In most cases, owners will first notice something is wrong when they see their dog constantly scratching or licking an area. Allergies can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, which may be confused with reactions to infections or bad food. Further complicating matters, both types of symptoms may be the result of flea allergy dermatitis. If they’ve already dealt with fleas on another animal, they won’t be expecting their dog to have these reactions.
It’s easy for owners to confuse food allergies and food sensitivities. While the effects of an allergy are immediate, sensitivity reactions happen over time. Eggs, corn, wheat, soy and milk are common sensitivity triggers, and these products can go under several names on dog food labels. This makes it hard to narrow down causes by feeding a single protein diet. A “beef” or “chicken” food may have several protein sources.
If you don’t understand acute reactions from bee stings and medicines, they can be scary. Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids and ear flaps are common, resembling anaphylactic shock in humans. While it may be important to give the dog an antihistamine treatment, it’s rarely a life-or-death situation.
Asthma attacks are commonly brought on by cigarette smoke and scented products like candles. The holidays bring an uptick in attacks due to scented candles and visitors who smoke or wear fragrances.
Allergies in Cats
For the most part, cat allergies are similar to dog allergies. Along with itching and gastrointestinal problems, a cat may have throat swelling that can lead to snoring. Tail itchiness is often a sign of flea allergies, and some reactions can inflame paws. When dealing with flea bites, clients need to understand that it can take weeks for symptoms to subside.
Cats have mold, grass and pollen allergies like humans. Perfumes, cleaning products and other scented products can cause problems, as can some flea control and pesticide products. Cat toys can also be an issue, as plastics, rubber and cat nip can all be allergens. Likewise, some cats may have an adverse reaction to scented kitty litter.
Food allergies may show up at any age, and chicken allergies are by far the most common.
Strategies for Encouraging Compliance
Giving advice is one thing, but getting clients to follow through is another. How can you encourage clients to seek help for their pet and ensure compliance?
Get the whole picture: Are there conditions at home that could trigger reactions? Have they bought new food or toys for their pet? Brief your staff on questions to ask clients when they bring their pet in, especially if they mention swelling and itching. Jogging the client’s memory will help them when they talk to the vet about changes in the home.
Go over possible allergic reactions to medications. This information usually goes on the sheet that comes with the medication and not on the bottle. That means the client probably won’t see it or won’t think to check the sheet if their pet has a reaction. Make sure your clinic information is clearly printed on prescriptions, veterinary prescription labels and anything else you give clients.
Use your retail space to provide food, shampoo and other goods that are hypoallergenic. Even if the client doesn’t buy these products from you, having examples on hand makes it easy to show them what to look for.
Bathing can remove allergens trapped in fur. While bathing a dog is usually simple, bathing a cat can be an exercise in frustration. These tips will make the process easier and less painful for the cat and the owner:
- Play with the cat to tire it out.
- Put down a rubber mat to keep the cat from sliding around.
- Have the shampoo ready to use before the bath. Most formulas need to be pre-diluted.
We Can Help You Keep Your Clients in the Loop
Positive Impressions, LLC offers everything you need to build relationships with your clients. To keep drug information clear, we offer custom-printed prescription labels and prescription pads, as well as warning stickers for medicines. Our label wizard simplifies ordering by helping you find the right labels to fit your pharmacy’s printer. Not sure where to start? Check out the latest specials on our website.