Did you know that pets can suffer from allergies, just like us? Pet allergies are more common than previously thought – in fact, about 10% of all canines struggle with some type of allergy. When your pet suffers from allergies, his or her immune systems will respond by going into overdrive. This hyper-reaction can cause sneezing, but is more often expressed through dermatological distress, such as red, itchy skin, hair loss, and ear infections.
Determining the source of pet allergies can be difficult. Common allergens can include grass, fleas, pollen, dust, mites, and even food. So, what are the types of pet allergies and what can be done to help a sneezing dog or a wheezing cat?
Types of Pet Allergies
Like us, our pets can be affected by a vast world of allergens that enter our systems through inhalation, physical contact, food, and parasites. Since many of these allergens are more prevalent during the spring season (parasites and flowering trees and plants, for example), you may begin to notice allergic responses in your pet coinciding with the warmer temperatures. However, some pets experience allergies year-round, such as in the case of food sensitivities.
The types of allergies diagnosed in pets include:
- Fleas – This allergic response is caused by flea bites and can result in itching, rashes, and irritation.
- Atopy (or airborne allergens) – Atopy often covers those seasonal allergens, such as grass, tree, and plant pollens, and other airborne allergens, like dust mites and mold.
- Foods – Many pets develop protein and carbohydrate allergies – with chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, and corn being the most common culprits (despite the gluten-free craze).
- Direct contact allergens – Household chemicals, laundry soaps, and other cleaning products are often irritating to sensitive pet skin and can cause rashes and other skin conditions.
Different types of allergies produce different allergic responses; as a rule, the following symptoms are common to an allergic reaction:
- Scratching or pawing at ears, face, and head
- Redness or swelling
- Rashes, bumps, or sores on skin
- Red and/or watery eyes
- Sneezing, runny nose
- Coughing or wheezing
- Ear infection
Because the range of symptoms can be subtle or easily confused with symptoms of other conditions or illnesses, we recommend bringing your pet in for allergy testing and consultation. From a simple blood draw, we can help determine what your pet is allergic to and create a treatment plan to help your pet cope with symptoms that can impact his or her quality of life.
With the effective pet allergy treatments available – as well as an array of special diet options for food sensitivities – there is no reason why your pet should suffer.