Oftentimes I get ideas for articles based on patients I see or from questions our ADW clients ask. This article hits closer to home, but many pets show up to the vet clinic in a similar predicament.

Last week I briefly touched a mango. I woke up the next morning with my left eye nearly swollen shut. For several days my face morphed into all kinds of splotchy, itchy, puffy disfigurement. Each day was a new adventure, wondering what part of my face would be puffy or itchy next. Each day I took Benadryl and steroid and slathered myself with ointment, and prayed that it would end soon. It was an unpleasant experience. It turns out that there are a lot of folks allergic to mango. Go figure.

I’m lucky that I was able to figure out what triggered my reaction. Often when pets come into the clinic with swollen, puffy periocular tissue and lips (classic signs of an allergic reaction) we are not able to identify the source. We turn clients into Sherlock Holmes. We ask if there are any new dog beds, new treats or diet change, spiders, bees, etc. that could be the culprit.

In addition to swollen faces, owners may note that the pet is rubbing the face due to the accompanying itch. Pets may also present with hives. If severe, an allergic reaction may manifest as vomiting and/or diarrhea. Rarely, the reaction may present with acute anaphylaxis and collapse.

If you find your pet’s face all puffed up or body spotted with hives (bumps over the skin), take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. If you are unable to get to a veterinarian immediately due to lack of transport, you will want to get some antihistamine into your pet ASAP. Do not leave your pet alone until signs subside. Make your way to your vet.

What will your veterinarian do? More often than not, an intravenous injection of a steroid and an intramuscular injection of Benadryl will be in order. When I treat a patient for an allergic reaction, I keep the pet for a minimum of half an hour if the reaction is mild. If the reaction is more pronounced, I may keep the pet hospitalized for monitoring for several hours. I typically continue the antihistamine for another 3 days, and if signs persist or recur, I may continue the steroid for several days as well.

If a pet is vomiting, IV fluids may be warranted. If anaphylaxis occurs, oxygen, IV fluids, bronchodilators and epinephrine may be indicated.

Personally, I had a humbling few days, explaining to clients that my face doesn’t typically look so goofy (of course it had to happen when I had a busy week of clinic shifts scheduled!). At least our pets aren’t so vain as we humans. I tried my best not to rub and scratch my face. One friend told me I need an Elizabethan collar (like we put on animal patients) to keep my hands off my face! You can bet that I will never touch a mango again.


NOTE: Consult your Veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work and is the President and Founder of Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton