What are Lavender Allergies?
Allergies to lavender pollen are uncommon and to the essential oil even more so, but when they do develop it can be quite distressing to your pet. Dogs that acquire allergies develop itchy and inflamed skin, respiratory disorders, and chronic skin and ear infections. Essential oils are sometimes used to combat allergy symptoms in dogs, and lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and calming effects. Essential oils should be diluted for their use with dogs, and it is important to consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on therapy with essential oils. This is to ensure that the cause of the symptoms is indeed allergic in nature and to check for contraindications with any concurrent treatments.
Lavender oil is often used to alleviate the pain and swelling of an allergic reaction, but it is possible to develop an allergy to either the pollen or the oil of the lavender plant.
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Symptoms of Lavender Allergies in Dogs
Allergic canines may have many of the same respiratory symptoms that you see in humans, but the skin reactions are generally more noticeable. Dogs who develop symptoms of seasonal or environmental allergies typically start showing symptoms when they are between one and three years old, and symptoms generally intensify with each season or exposure.
- Asthma symptoms
- Chewing on affected areas
- Ear infections
- Hair loss
- Nasal congestion
- Obsessive licking
- Red and itchy eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Thickened skin
- Ulceration of the skin
Lavender oil is more often used to combat the symptoms of allergy than an allergen itself. Although essential oils should never be taken internally, lavender oil is known to ease the symptoms of an allergic reaction in several ways.
- Anti-inflammatory (rubbing lavender oil into the skin can reduce inflammation and healing minor burns or bug bites)
- Antiseptic (applying lavender oil to raw or ulcerated skin can increase new cell growth and protect the skin from additional infections)
- Sedative (Lavender oil is also used in aromatherapy as a sedative, and the scent may soothe a distressed animal and help it get the sleep needed to heal)
Essential oils should be diluted for their use with dogs, and may interact with certain chemicals and medications. Consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on any treatment plan, including therapy with essential oils.
Causes of Lavender Allergies in Dogs
Canine allergies are the aggressive response of specialized immune cells in the dog’s body to a protein that it sees as an invader. The specialized cells the body uses to protect the body from invaders are called mast cells, and they release histamine when the immune system is stimulated by specific allergens. Histamine has an inflammatory effect on the tissues it comes into contact with, which can result in the itchy and inflamed skin conditions characteristic of most allergic reactions in canines. When the cells in the sinuses and eyes are affected by the irritant, the symptoms of a runny nose and sneezing are activated. Although seasonal allergies to the pollen released by the lavender plant are somewhat more common, the oils in the plant itself can also cause an allergic reaction, either by direct contact or by inhalation.
Diagnosis of Lavender Allergies in Dogs
The condition of the skin during the physical examination will usually prompt your veterinarian to get a skin scraping for cutaneous cytology. Cutaneous cytology is the examination by microscope of the skin cells harvested from affected areas. This technique can be used to identify biological organisms that may cause similar symptoms such as mites, fungi, or bacterial infections. General tests are often done at this time as well, to rule out disorders like chronic bacterial illness, hypothyroidism, or even imbalances in blood chemistry. The timing of the symptoms combined with the results of these tests may give an initial indication of either seasonal allergies or an allergy to exposure to the oil itself.
An intradermal skin test, also known as a patch test, will often be done to pinpoint the individual allergen or family of allergens. In this test, tiny amounts of the suspected antigens are injected under the skin to induce a localized reaction for identification. Blood may be drawn to check the reaction of the allergens directly to the blood, but with environmental or seasonal allergies this technique is usually only employed if the patch test is unable to be administered, due to skin damage or other special circumstances.
Treatment of Lavender Allergies in Dogs
Hydrocortisone shampoos and salves are often applied to relieve swelling and irritation on the skin, but caution should be employed as ingestion of hydrocortisone can cause gastric distress. Antihistamines are only effective for twenty to thirty percent of our canine companions initially, and their effectiveness often fades as canines develop a tolerance to them. Medications such as corticosteroid injections or oral tablets are usually very effective in reducing the allergic signs, but they do have some serious side effects so are only recommended when milder treatments fail. In short-term therapy with corticosteroids the symptoms generally stay fairly mild, ranging from increased thirst to diarrhea. The long-term side-effects can contribute to much more critical disorders such as diabetes and liver dysfunction. As these developments are often dose dependent the lowest effective dose should be used and ongoing monitoring of blood chemistry levels may be required in situations necessitating the long-term use of corticosteroids.
Immunotherapy is another option for animals affected by unavoidable allergens, especially with reactions that are present for at least four to six months of the year and are resistant to antihistamines. An intradermal test will first verify the active allergens so that an injection can be prepared with altered antigens specifically designed for your pet. This personalized formula is injected into the patient on a weekly or monthly basis, desensitizing them to the allergen. This method of treatment is time consuming and expensive, however, it has a very high success rate, especially in younger dogs.
Recovery of Lavender Allergies in Dogs
Although lavender oil is often very beneficial for people or canines that are suffering from allergies that affect the skin, it is essential to contact your veterinarian before starting any sort of a treatment plan as the plant extracts may interact negatively with other supplements and medications. Essential oils need to be properly diluted with an appropriate oil for use with canines and only therapeutic grade essential oils should be utilized for the safety of your pet. Use of the full strength oils are generally too powerful for our dogs and diluting it with water rather than unscented oil will further irritate your pet’s skin.
Lavender Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I applied lavender to my dog and maybe it was a little too much she did upchuck clear liquid I immediately washed it off . She didn’t projectile vomit and now she’s taking a nap which is usual for her.
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