Dog And Cat Allergies: What You Need To Know To Keep Your Dog Or Cat Comfortable
Have you noticed your pet starts chewing at their skin more often during certain times of the year? Does your dog have a runny nose that won’t go away, or have you heard your cat sneezing frequently? Believe it or not, your pet might be suffering from allergies.
It is not as uncommon as you think for our pets to develop allergies. Some of them may have symptoms as severe as losing their hair in patches and developing large red rashes. Others may just seem like they have itchy feet.
No matter how minor their symptoms are, no one wants their pet to be uncomfortable. That’s why we’re here to tell you about allergies in pets. We’ll tell you the allergies your pet can develop, the symptoms to look out for, and how you can help keep them comfortable.
What Kind of Allergies Can Dogs and Cats Get?
Allergies in pets are very similar to human allergies. They are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain things. These things are called allergens, and your pet can even be allergic to the same things you are.
Many dogs and cats are allergic to grass, different types of pollen, and fleas. Some animals may even suffer from allergies to food. The symptoms of your pet’s allergies depend on the type of allergy they are suffering from and the parts of the body it is affecting.
Seasonal and Environmental Allergies
Seasonal and environmental allergies are becoming more common in dogs and cats. This may be because they are being diagnosed more accurately as veterinarians learn more about them.
Seasonal allergies only display symptoms at certain times of the year. This is usually in reaction to things like pollen, mold, and mildew.
Environmental allergies are an allergy to something in the air, on their bedding, or in the areas your dog or cat frequents. This can be grass, a certain type of fabric, or even, powder that you use to clean your carpet.
Seasonal and environmental allergies can cause medical conditions because of the symptoms. The conditions you are most likely to see are:
Allergic Rhinitis- This is what you see with allergies due to pollen and mold, as well as allergies to other animals’ dander (cats can be allergic to dogs and vice versa). This type of reaction results in itchy, watery eyes, congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Atopic Dermatitis- This is a skin reaction to allergens. You will see your pet chewing and scratching. You may notice a rash or raw skin/ Frequently, this develops on their feet, in their armpits, and on their tummy. Some animals can develop an overgrowth of yeast in their ears which will lead to frequent scratching and head shaking.
Your dog or cat is more likely to have atopic dermatitis than allergic rhinitis. If you see your dog or cat licking nonstop, or they’re coughing, sneezing, or losing hair, you should make an appointment with your vet. You and your veterinarian will need to work together to determine the cause and find the best treatment.
Treating Seasonal and Environmental Allergies
If you have allergies, you know how miserable the symptoms can make you. Fortunately, once the allergen is determined, there are numerous treatment options for your pet’s allergies.
The goal of treating seasonal and environmental allergies is to stop the irritation and clear up any inflammation.
Your pet may need frequent baths to remove any allergens from its coat. These baths are also used to control any bacterial or yeast infections that may occur due to scratching and licking.
If your pet has severe skin inflammation, a corticosteroid may be prescribed. This will most likely be in pill form to prevent your dog or cat from licking it off. Skin allergies (atopic dermatitis) often lead to skin infections. Your vet will take a skin scraping to examine for bacteria and may then prescribe an antibiotic.
Sometimes your pet may be prescribed an antihistamine like Claritin or Benadryl. Don’t attempt to give these on your own. Your pet’s vet will need to let you know a pet-appropriate dose.
A supplement with Omega- 3 and Omega-6 can help improve your pet’s skin condition and reduce inflammation caused by the allergens. If allergies have taken a toll on your pet’s coat, Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements can also help restore it.
Food allergies are not as common as seasonal allergies. And they can be harder to diagnose. While you may see nausea or vomiting, skin symptoms are more common. Persistent skin issues can be a result of an undiagnosed food allergy.
Food allergies are usually caused by an allergy to the protein in your pet’s food. The most common allergens for dogs are:
Common food allergies for cats include:
Believe it or not; your pet can suddenly develop allergies to the food they’ve had dozens of times. If they suddenly develop skin problems that will not go away, develop chronic ear infections, or start having gastrointestinal problems, your pet may need to be evaluated for a food allergy.
To diagnose a food allergy, your pet will be put on an elimination diet. Your pet will be put on special food. Once their symptoms have gone away, you will slowly begin introducing different foods to see which ones cause a reaction.
Treating Food Allergies
To treat your pet’s food allergies, you will need to keep them away from the foods that cause a reaction. It may mean switching to a special food so your pet can avoid the allergens making them sick.
You may also want to try a probiotic supplement. This helps repopulate your pet’s digestive system with beneficial bacteria. This can help improve any digestive symptoms that may be lingering and boost their immune system.
If you think your pet might be suffering from allergies, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Although most allergy symptoms are not life-threatening, they can cause extreme discomfort. And we all want our pets to live happy, healthy lives!