Medical Monday #6: Anaphylactic Shock & A Brief Overview of Allergies


Welcome to another edition of Medical Mondays.

Today, I want to talk about Anaphylactic Shock.

Firstly, what is an anaphylactic reaction?

An anaphylactic reaction is an immediate allergic reaction to an injection, an insect sting, or food (Merck/Merial).

Why does a pet produce such a strong reaction to a food, an injection, or an insect sting?

The animal has been previously been exposed to an antigen and produces an excess of antibodies. According to Merck/Merial, if and when the antigen appears in the blood, your pet will experience anaphylactic shock or a localized reaction.

How fast does anaphylaxis occur?

It can occur within seconds to minutes after exposure to the antigen (Merek/Merial).

What are signs of anaphylactic shock?

Typically, in humans and other species, the major organ affected by anaphylactic shock is the lungs, but dogs are different, the major organ affecting their bodies is the liver (Merck/Merial). Due to the liver being the main organ (not the only) affected by the anaphylactic shock, dogs experience gastrointestinal signs in addition to difficulty breathing:

sudden onset of diarrhea

excessive drooling






cold limbs

pale gums

fast heart rate

difficulty breathing

How serious is anaphylactic shock?

Anaphylactic shock is an EXTREME EMERGENCY, if your pet is experiencing signs of anaphylactic shock, it is imperative that you seek veterinary attention immediately (Merck/Merial)!

What other types of anaphylactic reactions might my pet experience?

This is a VERY brief overview of other types of allergies.

Hives & Swelling: these may occur as a reaction to drugs, chemicals, the consumption of something, insect bites, or sunlight. This reaction usually occurs within 20 minutes. Often times, hives are accompanied by swelling on the face or muzzle (Merck/Merial).

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Allergic Rhinitis (Nasal Allergies): caused by seasonal allergies, your pet may experience watery nasal discharge and sneezing. Usually, this is diagnosed if the veterinarian treats with antihistamines and the following reaction is favorable (Merck/Merial).

Chronic Allergic Bronchitis: Determined by a dry hacking cough that is brought about by physical activity (Rooney has this) (Merck/Merial).

PIE Syndrome (Pulmonary Infiltration with Eosinophilia): The lungs become filled with think fluid and white blood cells and the pet becomes lethargic and has difficulty breathing. The symptoms can be controlled with medication (Merck/Merial).

Food Allergies: Typically, this can lead to vomiting which occurs within 1 or 2 hours of eating, diarrhea, soft stool, or poor coat condition. Treatment of food allergies includes a plan developed alongside your veterinarian to try to eliminate symptoms and improve conditions (Merck/Merial).

Skin Allergies (Atopy): Your pet’s skin overreacts to an allergen in the environment, the affected areas will be very red and itchy. It is estimated that 10% of dogs suffer from atopy (Rooney has this too) (Merck/Merial).

Allergies are a major issue for pets in the Bay Area, does your pet experience any allergy symptoms? Has your pet every experienced anaphylactic shock?

Don’t forget that you can protect your pet by signing up for pet insurance, get your free quote by clicking the link below. Trupanion save us about $600 on Rooney’s recent back injury!

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10 Comment

  1. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    July 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    That is such a scary reaction. Bentley has been stung by bees and his face swells up so bad. I keep Benadryl on hand at all times. He still tries to catch the bees even after being stung. Duh! ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Basset Hounds 101 ~ Part 5My Profile

    1. Reply
      July 29, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Bees can be a big problem for some pets. Rooney goes into shock when he eats spiders which he did once it was so scary!

  2. Reply
    July 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    My human gets like that after getting a vet bill.
    Kyla recently posted…Thank you for your thoughts-I appreciate themMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 29, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      HAHAHA Kyla you are hilarious!

  3. Reply
    Jen jelly
    July 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Good information, it’s such a scary thing to happen. Luckily I haven’t had it with any of my dogs. I didn’t realize gastrointestinal signs would be an indicator of such a problem. You learn something new everyday.
    Jen jelly recently posted…Comment on You Can Help Animal Shelters Without Leaving Home by Jen JellyMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Jen, thank you so much for stopping by. The key is a sudden onset of gastrointestinal signs. For example, one time Rooney ate a spider and he immediately started vomiting.

  4. Reply
    July 28, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I haven’t experienced anaphylactic shock with a dog, but have with a human.
    My hubby had an allergic reaction to one of his medications last year. His tongue swelled rapidly, followed by his whole body. He had to have a tracheotomy to keep his airways open, was in a coma and on a ventilator for almost two weeks, critically ill. He did recover, but it was touch and go. I would hate to experience it again.
    If it happens to an animal, they must get treatment immediately as you say. It’s very scary, but thank you for this valuable information on what to do if it does happen to one of our pets.
    Barb recently posted…The Party’s Over!My Profile

    1. Reply
      July 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Barb, that sounds awful and soooo scary. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I hope you never have to experience anaphylactic shock with anyone ever again, but it is good to know what to do in an emergency.

  5. Reply
    Sharon S.
    July 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Great post! You compacted so much information in the story. My dog didn’t go into anaphylactic shock, but she had a face similar to the dog in your story… swollen and red after being bit by a spider. Our vet had to give her a shot to take down the swelling.
    Sharon S. recently posted…WW: Paralyzed Puppy Is In Good Hands With Foster MomMy Profile

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