If you’ve ever suffered from allergies, you know how irritating (in more ways than one) the symptoms can be. But we aren’t the only species than can experience the wide array of unpleasant reactions to various allergens; our pets can suffer many of those same reactions. Here’s what you need to know about pets and allergies.

The signs
How will you know if your pet is suffering from allergies? Some signs to watch for include:

  • Itchy, red, moist, or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy back or base of tail (likely caused by a flea allergy)
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (food-related allergies)
  • Snoring (because throat is inflamed)
  • Swollen paws/chewing on paws
  • Constant licking

Pets with allergies might also experience secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which could lead to hair loss.

The allergens
What can our pets be allergic to? Some common allergens are:

  • Pollens, grasses, plants, weeds, mold, and mildew
  • Dust and dander
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Food ingredients, like wheat, soy, corn, meats, etc.
  • Prescription drugs
  • Fleas and flea preventive medications
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products
  • Cat litters
  • Fabrics, rubber, and plastic materials
  • Shampoos

The diagnosis
If your pet is showing signs that she may be suffering from allergies, we’ll work to determine what’s causing her allergic reaction, which might require blood tests or changes in her diet. If we suspect that your pet is suffering from a skin allergy, we might refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.

The treatment
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the allergens from the pet’s environment, so treatment and prevention will depend on what’s causing the reaction. If the cause is food-related, we’ll recommend a change in your pet’s diet so the ingredient she’s allergic to can be avoided. If your pet is suffering from a flea allergy, we’ll recommend administering a regular flea preventive medication.

For seasonal and other environmental allergies, try bathing your dog or cat twice per week during the times when her symptoms seem to be the worst. Talk to us about using a shampoo that will keep your pet’s skin hydrated.

Some pets with allergies benefit from medications, including antihistamines, cortisone, steroids, or allergy injections.

If you suspect your pet is struggling with allergies, call our office.