Humans aren’t the only one affected by allergies. Your dog or cat can suffer from allergic reactions to any number of things — in the air, on their skin and in their food. Allergies must be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian, but first, you must know what to look for.
Common signs and symptoms of allergies
persistent scratching, licking and skin chewing
face and ear rubbing
inflamed skin patches, hair loss and foul odor
coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose
frequent vomiting or diarrhea
The most common allergy symptoms are the skin reactions, regardless of the cause. And they can they can crop up at any age. Just because your pet didn’t have allergies as a puppy or kitten, doesn’t mean your dog or cat won’t have them now that they are adults.
Four of the most common types of dog and cat allergies
Inhalant allergies (atopy – reactions to specific allergens such as pollens) in pets are caused by the same common allergens that affect humans — dust, grass, trees, mold, pollen, ragweed, etc. Allergies can be seasonal or persistent and skin reactions are most common. Atopy can often be treated with the same medications you take, but please don’t treat your pet’s allergies without veterinary supervision.
Signs of inhalant allergies include:
• Chewing on the feet
• Constant licking of the flank and groin area
• Rubbing of the face
• Inflamed ears or recurring ear infections
• Recurring hot spots in dogs and pinpoint facial scabbing in cats
• Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more common in cats)
Contact & Flea Allergies
Less common allergies include contact dermatitis, which can include allergic reactions to carpets, cleaners, or plastic. These allergies may cause:
• Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and the belly, feet, or muzzle
• Intense scratching
• Hair loss (in chronic conditions)
Contact and flea allergies generally cause skin irritation and are treated topically. You might be surprised to learn that most cats are only vaguely bothered by fleas. But those that are allergic can suffer — and so can their owners. Cats with contact and flea allergies often chew their skin raw, leading to hair loss, odor and infection, so fastidious flea control is a must.
Food allergies account for about 10-15% of all allergies in dogs and cats. They can be the most difficult to diagnose and manage. Treatment involves a hit-and-miss approach involving a restricted diet and the gradual reintroduction of possible allergens to determine the culprit. Skin reactions to food allergies are common, but frequent vomiting or diarrhea can also be a sign. Keep in mind that if there is a change in your pet’s diet (or your pet just ate something it wasn’t supposed to), your dog or cat may experience an episode of vomiting or diarrhea — this doesn’t necessarily mean your pet has an allergy. Watch your pet and see if it becomes a persistent problem. If it does, then schedule an appointment with our vet clinic.
Food allergies may show up along with with allergies to pollen, dust, etc. Symptoms include:
• Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, legs and anal area
• Ear problems
• Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases
Occasionally, pets with true food allergies may have increased bowel movements and soft stool. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerances, which are not true allergies, and generally cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Watching your pet go through the misery of allergy symptoms is not fun. If you suspect your pet has allergies, visit our pet clinic. The type of allergy and severity of the symptoms will determine how our veterinarian, Dr. Adney decides to treat them.
Less common, but more severe allergic reactions include:
• facial swelling
• Anaphylaxis (A rare, life-threatening, immediate allergic reaction to something ingested or injected.)
These symptoms usually appear within 20 minutes of being exposed to the allergen, which can include drugs, chemicals, insect bites, or something eaten.
If your pet has a history of a severe allergic reaction, Dr. Adney will be happy to discuss various options with you.
Allergies can vary from pet to pet, so it is important that you work with Dr. Adney, our vet here at Day and Evening Pet Clinic, to make sure YOUR pet gets the best possible treatment. Call us at 727-785-7200 and let us help your dog or cat at the first sign of allergies. You and your pet will both be happy you did.