• Shelley Beyer

Does My Pet Have Allergies?


Does your pet have allergies?


Unfortunately, we can’t just ask our furry friends how they are feeling. Figuring out if your cat or dog is having an allergic reaction to something isn’t very simple. Watch out for signs like rashes, itching, diarrhea, etc. Most pet allergies fall into one of four categories- food, contact, environmental, or flea.



Food Allergies


Food allergies only account for about 10% of pet allergies. Signs of a pet having a food allergy include rashes, hives, itching, diarrhea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal distress. Occasionally, a pet may have respiratory issues as well. Oddly, a food sensitivity may develop later in life. Your cat who loved fish may suddenly start breaking out when she has it.


The most likely food allergies for dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, and soy, in that order. Cats are most likely to have problems with dairy, beef, or fish.



Contact


This allergy is the rarest of the ones experienced by pets. Usually, direct contact with a substance will be the cause of these reactions. Signs of a contact allergy are redness and irritation at the contact site. Secondary signs of a problem can be self-inflicted. Your pet may be scratching themselves bald or giving themselves scabs or sores to try to relieve the irritation.


The most common sources of these allergies are chemicals found in detergents, carpets, synthetic fibers, paint, wool, leather, rubber, plastic, or insecticides.



Environmental


Another problem your pet can share with people- they can be allergic to what’s in the air. While they will sometimes show the puffy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, signs that you expect from airborne allergens, their allergic reactions are usually more of a full-body itch. OUCH! They also may develop inflammation or infection in the ear. Excessive licking and scratching, or even biting, can lead to self-inflicted injuries and hair loss.


The list of guilty allergens will sound familiar too. Dust, mold/mildew, and pollen are the biggest culprits here!



Fleas


Not only are fleas an unpleasant pest all the time, but your pet may be especially sensitive to flea saliva! Bites become very red and inflamed, but your pet may cause more damage to themselves by trying to make the itching stop! The regular signs of fleas such as feces, eggs, or living fleas are usually good indicators that this is the cause.



Diagnosis and Treatment


If you suspect that something is wrong or you see some of these signs, I recommend taking a visit to your vet. The best thing you can do to aid your vet in making a diagnosis is giving them a thorough list of symptoms and how long your pet has been experiencing them. Your vet will be able to help with flea problems and should be able to help relieve the symptoms of the contact allergy as well. Skin and blood tests will be a way to determine environmental allergy causes. Food allergies are trickier. You will likely have to put your pet on a hypoallergenic diet and have a potential problem food slowly reintroduced to determine which ones cause the reaction.


As for treatment, most plans will include reducing exposure to the allergens. You might use special shampoos or topical creams to ease the discomfort of your pet. Your vet may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to control the symptoms too. They may even recommend allergy injections to improve your pet's resistance to environmental allergies. Your veterinarian will have solutions to whatever the problem is! Relief is out there for your poor ailing pet- so do not wait to make an appointment if you see these symptoms!