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Allergies in Dogs and Cats: Symptoms and Types

Allergies in Dogs and Cats: Symptoms and Types

Itching, rashes, watery eyes, and sneezing. Sounds like allergies!

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. But did you know that our pets can have allergies too? It’s true! Allergies are a common health problem in both people and their pets.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. It's a peak season for asthma and allergies, so we thought it was the perfect time to educate pet owners and others about the symptoms and types of allergies in pets!

Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

Allergies occur when the immune system is hypersensitive to a particular substance. Although allergy symptoms can vary depending on the cause, there are some common symptoms of allergies in pets, including:

  • Itchy skin and ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Obsessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Red, inflamed, or irritated skin
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face

Common Allergens

Pets can be allergic to so many different things. VCA Animal Hospitals says that most allergens are proteins from plants, insects, animals, or food. Common allergens include:

  • Tree, weed, and grass pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites
  • Flea saliva
  • Medications
  • Food ingredients
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dander
  • Cleaning products
  • Perfumes
  • Fabrics

Types of Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Unfortunately, allergies in dogs and cats aren’t always straightforward. Finding what is causing an allergy can be a long, frustrating process, especially when our pets can’t tell us what’s bothering them.

There are various types of allergies in dogs and cats, including skin allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies.

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies are the most common type of allergic reactions in pets. Common skin allergies in pets include fleas, dust mites, and soaps. Flea allergy dermatitis, caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva, is very common in dogs and cats. It can make pets very itchy and cause redness, scabs, hair loss, inflammation, and bumps. Flea control is essential for treating flea allergy dermatitis.

Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause itching, gastrointestinal symptoms, and ear infections. Pets can be allergic to any food ingredient but common ones are dairy, wheat, beef, soy, lamb, chicken, corn, and fish. Determining a food allergy and pinpointing the ingredient can be a long process as food trials are often necessary. If you’re able to find out what ingredient is bothering your pet, you’ll need to cut the problem ingredient out of your pet’s diet.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies can be caused by dust, pollen, molds, and cleaning products. These allergens are either inhaled or absorbed through the skin and can result in atopic dermatitis. Environmental allergies are usually seasonal and can cause coughing, itching, watery eyes, sneezing, inflamed skin, and shedding.

Allergies can lead your pet to excessively scratch and itch, which can result in further issues like bacterial infections and hot spots. If your pet has environmental allergies, regular bathing with therapeutic shampoos and anti-inflammatory drugs may help.

Because allergy symptoms can be similar to other disorders, you should always contact your vet if you think your pet has allergies!

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