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Animals have allergies, too!

Written by Veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson

Nutmeg, our 16-year-old female beaver and mother to Butternut, recently visited the Zoo vet for her annual physical exam. During the exam, Associate Veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson noticed hair loss on Nutmeg’s underside and suspected allergies. Animals with allergies can show signs of hair loss because they are itchy and pull out hair when scratching.

At a follow-up exam, veterinary dermatologists Dr. Danielle Wyatt and Dr. Danielle Tulloss performed a skin allergy test and confirmed that Nutmeg is allergic to trees, grasses, dogs, cats, and even humans. Skin testing for animals uses the same techniques as skin testing for humans.  Large “wheals” or hives indicate an allergic response or sensitivity to the allergen.

Zoo veterinarians and keepers will help manage Nutmeg’s allergies by changing her bedding to one that she is less sensitive/allergic to and providing flea and tick prevention. Additionally, they will start her on oral immunotherapy, initially introducing a small amount of the allergen and then gradually increasing the amount of allergen to help Nutmeg develop a tolerance for it.

More tolerance to the allergen = less itch = happy beaver!