This is the season for allergies. Have you noticed your pet scratching, licking, or chewing? We want to help make your pet more comfortable, give us a call at 708-331-4640.
Types of Allergies That Affect Pets
There are many types of allergies that can affect your pet. Allergies caused by airborne particles are called atopy. Common sources are pollens, molds, and dust mites. Allergies that result from flea-bites are referred to as flea allergy dermatitis. Certain allergies occur from items your pet ingests, and are typically called food allergies. Contact allergies are caused by something your pet comes in direct contact with, such as carpet fibers, plastics, grasses, and other things. Contact allergies are far less common than atopy and flea allergy dermatitis in pets.
Atopy is the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. Atopy is often seasonal. If a pet is allergic to ragweed, symptoms occur in the fall. Pets who are allergic to spring tree pollen will show signs in April and May. If a pet is allergic to dust mites, the symptoms may be most dramatic in the winter, when more time is spent inside. Signs of atopy include:
- Chewing at the feet
- Constant licking of the flank (side) and groin area
- Rubbing of the face
- Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
- Recurrent hot spots in dogs and pinpoint facial scabbing in cats
- Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)
Less common allergies include contact dermatitis, which include allergies to carpets, cleaners, or plastic. These allergies may cause:
- Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
- Intense scratching
- Licking at the areas that are itchy (giving that area a red appearance due to saliva staining)
- Hair loss (in chronic conditions)
Food allergies account for about 10-15% of all allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies may show up concurrently with allergies to pollen, dust, etc. Symptoms include:
- Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
- Ear problems, often yeast-related
- Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases
Occasionally, dogs 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 can be miserable in itself. If you suspect your pet has allergies, ask your veterinarian today. The type of allergy and severity of the symptoms will determine how we may treat your pet.