We have a lot in common with our pets when it comes to allergies, but where do the similarities end? Pets sometimes react to allergens just like people, but they may also exhibit signs that their owners may not recognize. Have you noticed your pet behaving abnormally? Read on to learn more about allergies in pets.
What are allergies?
Allergies result when the body views a substance, known as an allergen, as a threat and develops a hypersensitivity. An allergic reaction results when the body’s immune system attacks the allergen and tries to remove the irritant from the body. Common pet allergens include dust, pollen, flea saliva, and food. Pets can develop allergies of varying severity at any age, but allergies most often strike when they are at least six months old.
What are signs of allergies in pets?
Like people, pets with allergies cough and sneeze, but they also show other signs, depending on the trigger, such as:
- Licking, chewing, or biting
- Rubbing, scratching, or itching
- Hair loss
- Head shaking
Scratching may seem to be a pet’s normal behavior, but it can also be a sign of allergies. When pets itch due to an allergic reaction, they will often lick the following areas:
- Hind end
If you observe any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment at our hospital.
What are pets allergic to?
The three common allergies in pets involve environmental factors, fleas, and food.
- Environment — Environmental allergens that can trigger reactions in pets include outdoor and indoor substances, such as pollen, grasses, dust, household cleaners, and mold. Cats are more likely to suffer with environmental allergies than dogs.
- Fleas — Fleas are one of the most common causes of pet allergies. When a flea bites, its saliva irritates the pet’s skin and causes the allergic reaction. Some pets have a severe reaction, called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), and a secondary infection can develop if the allergy is not treated. Pets should be treated with a year-round flea and tick preventive to control and manage flea allergies.
- Food — Less common than environmental or flea allergies, food allergies can develop at any time, and pets may develop an allergy to a food they were not allergic to previously. Pets with food allergies, which can vary in severity, need their diet closely monitored, including checking the labels for ingredients in their kibble, canned food, treats, medications, and supplements. Pets are most commonly allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy, and wheat.
How are allergies in pets diagnosed?
Diagnosing your pet’s allergies can be time-consuming and complicated. First, schedule an exam with our veterinary health care team. We will gather a detailed history of your pet’s activity, environment, and diet to find the possible cause of her allergies. Then, the veterinarian will examine your pet, review her history and symptoms, and may recommend diagnostic tests, including blood work, allergy testing, or an elimination diet.
How are allergies in pets treated?
Treatment will vary based on your pet’s allergies and her needs. Our team may recommend changes in your pet’s environment, hygiene routine, or diet. We may prescribe antihistamine, steroid, or anti-inflammatory medication to help manage her symptoms. Depending on your pet’s allergies, we will design a treatment plan tailored to her needs that will provide the comfort she deserves.
Do you think your pet is suffering from allergies? Schedule an appointment and we will help you diagnose and treat the problem.