|Barked: Thu Apr 14, '11 1:32am PST |
|Any hive response that large should be seen by a veterinarian due to the high risk of anaphylactic reaction.
Systemic allergic responses can result in facial swelling, redness, increased pruritus (itchy skin), hives and diarrhea (the allergic response actually causes the GI tract to become inflamed which causes the secondary diarrhea).
Most acute allergic response dogs will NEVER know the cause of their reaction unless a visible sting/bite/allergen contact is seen by the owner. It can be from an insect, inhalant or contact allergen although for any facial swelling it is most likely an insect bite. Hives are seen commonly with insect and contact allergens (IE rubbing on plant material, detergents, fabrics etc).
Once an allergic response begins it lowers the threshold for additional responses from same allergen (IE less contact causes worse response) until the body is able to calm the allergic response back to normal by either avoiding the allergen (which is hard if you don't know what it is) or using oral or injectable antihistamines to calm the dampen the inflammatory response.
Antihistamines should ONLY be given if you have consulted with your local vet or an ER vet. If you have NEVER used them in your pet DO NOT assume they will be safe. Although antihistamines are pretty benign in general there are some nasty side effects that occur in some patients including increased anxiety/frantic behavior. They also can be contraindicated for some patients if they are using other medications.
It is important to remember that once an antihistamine is started it should be given long enough to completely dampen the bodies allergic response otherwise it will start up again often worse than before. Follow the correct dosing size given by your veterinarian and given it consistently until instructed otherwise. Benedryl is a common antihistamine that only last 8 hours. Many people give one dose to an allergic dog then never follow up with it which just results in a more allergic dog later. Give it every 8 hours for at least 24 hours before tapering off. Like I said, contact your vet for correct dosage and instructions if you have never given this dog antihistamines before.
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