Do Pets Get Allergies?
Allergies in pets are actually pretty common. Our dog and cat friends can be allergic to anything that a person can be. They can have a sensitivity to bee stings, react to a vaccine, have trouble with ragweed, or even be allergic to you! So how do you know if your cat or dog has allergies? Keep reading to find out.
Allergies in Pets
An allergy, whether you are a human or a dog, is at a very basic level the overreaction of the body’s immune system to a stimulus of some kind. This stimulus, called an antigen, can be just about anything.
Most pets do not react to these antigens, but allergic pets experience a plethora of symptoms as the body tries to fight these perceived invaders. Common antigens that cause problems in pets include dust, pollens, insect saliva, various chemicals, and foods (often a protein).
The most severe form of an allergic reaction is anaphylaxis. Just as in people, this can lead to life-threatening symptoms such as shock. Thankfully, full blown anaphylactic reactions are not common in pets.
While most people who experience allergies get to suffer from respiratory symptoms (sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion), our animal friends more often suffer from dermatological symptoms. Skin allergies in dogs and cats may look like:
- Itching (may be generalized or focused in a certain area)
- Licking or chewing at the skin or paws
- Redness and/or swelling of the skin
- Loss of fur
- Ear trouble
- Scales, lumps, or bumps on the skin
- A bad odor
Certain pets are more prone to allergies than others. Likely there are some genetic predispositions involved as certain breeds seem to be more prone (we are looking at you Pitties, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Maltese, and Bichons!).
Most often allergies in pets do not start until the second or third year of life after the immune system has been exposed to the allergen several times.
What to Do If You Think Your Pet is Allergic
Skin allergies in dogs and cats can be a frustrating issue to deal with as there is no solution that works for every pet. We cannot usually totally eliminate whatever the pet is allergic to, meaning that we must try to manage the allergy and its symptoms as best we can.
Thankfully, you are in good hands at Curem Veterinary Care. While allergies in pets are troublesome, they are not uncommon, and we have a lot of ways that we can help.
If you think that your dog or cat has allergies, you can help at home by:
- Being sure that your pet is on a good flea prevention protocol
- Giving them a good bath with a hypoallergenic pet shampoo
- Adding fish oil to your pet’s diet (call us for guidance before starting)
- Trimming long hair on the feet and underside that may trap allergens
- Trying an over-the-counter antihistamine (again, please ask for dosing and safety information for your individual pet)
If things aren’t improving, or if your pets symptoms are severe, it is best that we see you for an examination as soon as possible. A very itchy pet is a valid urgent care appointment!
Medicated topical therapies, food trials, steroids or other immunomodulating medications, antibiotics for secondary infection, and even immunotherapy may be part of your pet’s allergy management protocol.
Pets can definitely have allergies, and allergies in pets are often not a fun problem. Rest assured, though, that we have options to help your four-legged family member to feel better no matter how miserable they are.