Itchy Business: Allergies in Pets
Few of us escape some form of seasonal allergies in our lifetime – from runny noses to watery eyes, allergies are a common problem for people. You may also be surprised to learn they’re just as bothersome for our pets. Allergies in pets can be caused by a number of (mostly) harmless allergens, including certain types of food, mold, and pollen.
When allergies are an ongoing problem, many pets can suffer discomfort and even be at risk of health complications as the immune system is overloaded. Unfortunately, allergies don’t always get treated until problems occur because they manifest differently in our furry friends.
To help owners spot allergies in their four-legged friends, The Pets Place has tackled this scratchy malady.
Types of Allergies in Pets
Like us, pets can experience an allergic reaction to many different substances, airborne or otherwise. Among dogs and cats, the following types of allergies are most common:
- Flea bite allergy – This allergy is caused by a flea’s saliva. Some pets are so allergic that it only takes one bite to experience several days of intense scratching (among other skin problems). Some pets also have a strong allergic response to other insect or arachnid bites.
- Seasonal allergy – These airborne offenders include pollens, spores, molds, and dust mites.
- Contact allergy – Some pets are sensitive to the chemicals used in everything from household cleaners and laundry detergents to those used in synthetic fibers, such as carpeting.
- Food allergy – This allergy is most often a reaction to animal proteins, such as chicken, beef, and lamb, as well as soy. Grains can also cause a reaction in some pets.
Because pets do not exhibit the same array of allergy symptoms as we do, it can be difficult for us to identify. Signs of allergies in pets include:
- Itchy skin leading to persistent scratching
- Biting or chewing paws and skin
- Red, inflamed skin
- Hair loss
- Hot spots
- Scabbed or scaly skin
- Ear infections and other ear problems
Recognizing the Signs and Seeking Treatment
Since skin conditions are so closely related to allergies in pets, we recommend your pet be examined if you notice an increase in scratching, biting, or licking. Some allergies can cause sneezing and watery eyes as well.
Ongoing allergies can wreak havoc on your pet’s overall health and, as you might imagine, can be very uncomfortable. To get to the cause of your pet’s symptoms, we may recommend various diagnostics, including blood work and a physical examination (food allergies typically require a process of elimination, which may take longer to diagnose).
Treatment can entail antihistamine and anti-inflammatory medications, topicals, special shampoos and conditioners, dietary changes, supplements, and allergy shots. We also work with you to reduce exposure to allergens at home. This includes frequently washing your pet’s bedding, switching to natural cleaning products, and soaking your pet’s paws to relieve itchiness and decrease the amount of allergens tracked into the home.
With so many options for treating allergies in pets, no pet should have to suffer. If you suspect your companion has an allergy, please contact us for an appointment.