What is angioedema?
Angioedema is a Type I hypersensitivity reaction to an antigen.
The antigens are substances that can induce a host defense mechanism. Should this response be exaggerated, it can trigger a hypersensibility reaction or anaphylaxia.
Different substances can act as antigens, for example: food, insect bites, drugs, inhalant allergens, chemicals, plants. A hypersensitivity reaction entails a massive activation of inflammatory mediators and leads to release of histamine.
All this can cause chain cardiovascular collapse and respiratory distress.
Angioedema and urticaria can affect dogs and cats, but there is no predilection for sex or age. Most affected breeds are Bull Terrier, Boxer and French Bulldog.
Spring and summer are times where angioedema is more common because of the increased presence of insects.
What happens to a dog with angioedema?
Angioedema is an acute condition, characterized by non painful subcutaneous inflammation and oedema in cheeks region, oral mucosa and around the eyes. This condition appears suddenly, usually within 20 minutes to allergen exposition.
The dog can be variably itchy, nervous, and sometimes laryngeal inflammation can cause severe respiratory distress. Should cardiovascular system be affected by this allergic reaction, the dog needs emergency help to avoid fatal consequences.
Urticaria presents as multiple hives or bumps of various sizes distributed throughout the body surface and it is possible to see can see how the hair rises in these areas.
Which is the best treatment for a dog with angioedema?
Main treatment goal is stopping inflammatory reaction by using corticoids. We administer methylprednisolone intravenously. This is rapid-acting glucocorticoid that interrupts inflammatory reaction very quickly and effectively.
If respiratory distress is present, the dog will need immediate supportive treatment including oxygenotherapy, fluid therapy and vasoconstrictive drugs (adrenaline).
Should you recognize this signs in your pet, please seek urgent veterinary help.
Can I prevent angioedema?
Some dogs are affected once a time in their life. But some dogs become sensitized to the allergen, and can develop angioedema again. In this case, if the cause (a plant, an insect bite, a particular type of pollen) can be avoided, it is of course recommended to do it. This has sense as hypersensitivity reactions can increase if repeated contact with the allergen occurs.
To your successful pet ownership,
Iris Pérez and David Prandi Chevalier
Clínica Veterinaria Betulia, Badalona (Barcelona), Spain