While you can’t avoid allergies for pets, you can control a variety of environmental factors that can affect your pet and aggravate their allergies.
Pets will experience discomfort in different areas depending on their allergies. In many cases, your pet’s skin will be the primary indication of an allergy.
What Types of Allergies Can My Pet Have?
There are several different kinds of allergies in pets, including, but not limited to:
- Flea or insect allergy– Some dogs can have an allergic reaction when bit by an arachnid such as a spider or tick and insects such as bees, fleas, flies, ants, hornets, mosquitoes, etc. Flea saliva is the most common insect allergen for dogs and causes flea allergy dermatitis, which causes minor irritation in the area of the bite. Dogs will experience severe itching that could result in loss of hair, particularly near the base of their tail. The broken skin may also result in a bacterial infection.
- Inhalant allergies– This refers to tree pollens, weed pollens, grass pollens, dust mites, mildew, and mold. Dogs can show signs of allergic rhinitis or bronchitis, but those affected will typically have skin irritation.
- Food allergy– A food allergy or food hypersensitivity typically develops in response to dairy, protein (beef, chicken, lamb), gluten, wheat gluten, chicken eggs, and soy. This allergy can present with itching, digestive problems, and respiratory issues.
How Can I Tell My Pet has an Allergy?
Your pet reacts differently to allergies than humans do and will often show skin irritation. Here are some signs your pet may be suffering from an allergy:
- Ear Infections– While not all ear infections are caused by allergies, this is a common sign your pet is having a reaction to an allergen. Since the inside of the ear contains skin, it can become infected and inflamed due to allergens. If your pet has been rubbing or scratching their ears, they may have an ear infection caused by allergies.
- Itchy Skin– If your dog is itching more than usual, it may have allergies. In some cases, they may just be itchy in one spot, whereas in other cases, they could be itchy in multiple areas such as the groin, armpits, face, ears, rump, and paws. You may notice your dog licking these areas excessively if they have allergies.
- Asthma– While not common, some pets may experience coughing or asthma due to allergies. Wheezing may also show up, but typically skin issues are more prominent.
- Rashes/Hot Spots– Inflamed areas on the skin called hot spots can show up due to allergies which are caused by infection from bacteria penetrating the skin. These spots may lose hair and become sensitive to the touch; You will typically see these spots in the chest or hip area, and your pet may lick or itch them due to discomfort.
- Stomach Issues– You may notice that your pet’s anal area is red and itchy due to allergies. You may also notice diarrhea, flatulence, and vomiting that could be caused by allergies. Additionally, your pet may lose its appetite if suffering from allergies.
- Sneezing/Watery Eyes– You may notice redness on the face, tears, and sneezing caused by allergies in your pet. Typically, you will see redness in the body and paws, indicating allergies.
How Are Allergies in Pets Treated?
Strict flea control is recommended for dogs with flea allergy dermatitis. Using monthly flea preventatives and home treatments can help keep them at bay. At the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro, your veterinarian can provide you with tips on protecting your pets from fleas. If your pet is experiencing severe itching, we can prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to provide immediate relief.
Treatment for inhalant allergies will depend on the specific allergy season. Typically treatment will involve one of these three therapies for your pet:
Shampoo therapy– We recommend frequent bathing in hypoallergenic shampoo to help soothe your pet’s inflamed, itchy skin. This will also help to rinse allergens out of the fur before they can be absorbed through the skin.
Hyposensitization/Desensitization– With this treatment, we will inject a small amount of the antigen into your pet. This dosing will allow us to reprogram or desensitize your pet’s immune system. Keep in mind that success with this treatment may vary.
Anit-Inflammatory therapy- This includes treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs such as antihistamines or corticosteroids. We may also recommend fatty acid supplementation in their diets to help them respond better to medications. These medications work to block the chemical signals associated with itching.
With food allergies, the main treatment is to identify the allergy and eliminate it from your pet’s diet. We will instruct you on how to perform a hypoallergenic diet to begin the process of elimination. It can take at least eight weeks for all food products to exit the body, so your dog will need to eat an exclusive diet for anywhere from eight to twelve weeks.
During this time, your pet cannot eat any table scraps, treats, or vitamins. Our team will work with you to help you with specific diets and restrictions we recommend for your pet.
Worried Your Pet Has Allergies? Call us Today!
If you suspect your pet is dealing with allergies, contact the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro today to make an appointment!