It’s not just humans who can be allergic to the house dust mite. Your pets can be allergic, too! In fact, about 75% of household pets with year round itching can be affected by house dust mite hypersensitivity. House dust mites can be found in every single household (that’s a lot of dust mites). And, it can become troublesome for “Fido” when he starts to feel the itch!
While house dust mite hypersensitivity causes year round itch, the problem becomes exacerbated when we start to spend more time indoors for winter. When pet parents turn on the heaters and furnaces, dust mites begin to blow around. Combine that with the indoor heat and humidity, and the problem becomes magnified. You may notice your pet scratching, chewing and biting which could lead to infection if not caught early.
How to Help Pets Allergic to Dust Mites
Pet owners need to go beyond providing immediate relief in the form of medication (steroids), which can have its own side effects and no permanent solution. Here are some top tips:
- Get a definitive diagnosis by a BOARD CERTIFIED VETERINARY DERMATOLOGIST®.
- Decrease the levels of house dust mites within your home. You can purchase barrier covers for mattresses, pillows and box springs (where many dust mites live) so they can’t escape. Don’t allow your pet to sleep on your bed. Also, eliminate rugs/carpets and opt for hard flooring whenever possible.
- Clean your pet’s bed. Wash it frequently in hot water.
- Keep your pet out of the basement, which can be more humid than other rooms in the house. Humidity is a breeding ground for dust mites. You want to de-humidify as much as possible.
- You can never eliminate the dust mite completely, so your in-home efforts will need to be combined with ongoing allergy injections or sublingual immunotherapy for your pet.
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?
Sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment that has recently been adapted from human medicine for pets. A BOARD CERTIFIED VETERINARY DERMATOLOGIST® can create a serum of “exposure to the allergen” in the form of drops that are put into the pet’s mouth by the pet owner. After long-term exposure to the allergen, the pet experiences decreased sensitivity and symptoms. A pet owner who opts for allergy injections is taught how to give the injections at home. This works the same way in providing long-term exposure to the allergen. But, instead of giving the drops via the mouth, it is given as an injection.
Immunotherapy is a long term intervention for atopic dermatitis, intended to be given for the life of the pet. It is the only intervention that changes the immune system and has the potential to make pets tolerant to this environmental allergen. In well characterized animals, 70% have a good to excellent response to immunotherapy and 30% do not respond. The full response may take 12 months.
Dog receives sublingual immunotherapy