Allergic Reactions: What You Need to Know

|| May 9, 2016

Do you remember Violet from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”? Well, if you don’t - let me remind you. She’s the girl who eats a piece of gum, and then her body starts to swell up like a balloon… or blueberry! Imagine if that’s your dog’s face. Pretty scary! This is exactly what happened to a patient of ours, Leesi.

Leesi_Keuhn.jpgLeesi is an 11-month-old female Belgian Tervuren who came to our Waukesha location in the middle of the night. Leesi is in training for outdoor search and rescue work. She was outside in the field that day for a decent amount of time. Beginning around 9:30 p.m., her owners started to see a change in her face. Her muzzle began to swell and swell and swell! She was having an allergic reaction!

Her owners brought her to WVRC Waukesha and Dr. Kaiser responded quickly, giving her an injection of a steroid and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine.

Allergic reactions are inflammatory reactions that occur when your animal comes into contact with a certain substance. This substance can be anything from the proteins in vaccines, insect bites, medications, or any number of things.

Typical signs of an allergic reaction are swelling around the eyes or muzzle, hives, and possible vomiting and diarrhea. If the reaction becomes severe, animals can experience anaphylaxis, a life-threating reaction.

It’s very important to seek veterinary assistance if an allergic reaction starts in your animal, as you do NOT want it to escalate to a full anaphylactic reaction. When you rush your adorable pet into a veterinary hospital, typical treatments are a steroid and antihistamine injection. If vomiting is occurring, then anti-nausea medications and subcutaneous fluids (fluids given under the skin) will likely be administered. It’s not uncommon for oral antihistamines to be continued at home. In rare cases, allergic reactions can result in full anaphylaxis, and hospitalization and emergency care are required.

Fortunately, Leesi’s swelling started to go down before she left WVRC. Keep in mind, if your pet’s face starts to look like Violet after she ate that gum, you should have them evaluated by a veterinarian just like Leesi’s owners did!

Kerri Wiedmeyer, DVM

WVRC - ER Veterinarian