If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know the signs: itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, perhaps a cough, or even a few hives. Unfortunately, allergies aren’t limited to humans. Allergies in pets can be every bit as uncomfortable for them as they are for us. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons pet owners bring their pets in to see us.
Types of Allergies in Pets
Allergies in pets are the result of an overreaction of the immune system to foreign particles (allergens) that enter the body. The types of allergens that produce a response varies widely from pet to pet, but can generally be grouped into four main categories:
- Environmental/seasonal allergy – This includes allergens such as plant and tree pollens, dust mites, and mold. While this type of allergy is most often associated with the arrival of spring and summer, it can be present any time of year.
- Flea bite allergy – One of the most common forms of allergies in pets, this is an allergic reaction to flea saliva (another reason year-round parasite prevention is a must!).
- Contact/chemical allergy – This is an allergic response to chemicals in the home or environment, such as shampoos, laundry detergent, cleaning chemicals, or carpet.
- Food allergy – Although not as common as other allergies, many pets are sensitive to certain ingredients found in commercial dog or cat foods. Chicken, beef, fish, soy, and grains are among the top offenders.
Scratch, Scratch, Scratch!
Allergies in pets tend to manifest as skin-related disorders, rather than the upper respiratory symptoms of human seasonal allergies or the intestinal discomfort of food allergies.
Besides excessive scratching or licking of a specific area (most notably the paws, groin, and ears), other symptoms of allergies in pets include:
- Ear infections and other problems
- Hot spots and/or hair loss
- Foul odor
- Scabs, swelling, and other skin issues
- Watery drainage from the eyes
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, please call us right away to schedule an appointment. Our team will help you pinpoint the cause of your pet’s discomfort using a detailed health history, physical examination, and allergy testing. Together, we can develop a plan that supports your pet’s long-term health and comfort.