What’s the strangest allergy you’ve ever heard? Strawberries, Portobello mushrooms, and chicken are just three odd food allergies you might come across. Then there are environmental allergies like dust and mites. Did you know your dog or cat could even be allergic to flea saliva?
According to pet insurance statistics, skin allergies are among the most common allergies in dogs and cats. But there are also food and environmental allergies that can affect your pet’s health.
You’d be right to wonder what causes allergies in dogs and cats, what the symptoms are, and what kind of allergy treatments are available to help your pet feel their best?
What Causes Allergies?
Every allergy stems from the same problem. It’s related to a low immune system. See, the immune system’s job is to fight “invaders.” Such invaders can be real. For example, if you cut your hand and feel a throbbing near the cut, that’s a good thing. The throbbing represents your immune system at work. However, it can also be overprotective, like a nervous parent.
For example, if your dog has a grain allergy, he might have itchy skin. That’s a symptom that stems from the immune system believing the grain poses a danger and sends a chemical cascade of antibodies to fight it.
It’s all a miscommunication. As you may know, allergies can be mild or severe. Left unchecked, they can also lead to chronic inflammation and serious illnesses.
Common Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Excessive Scratching/Biting/Chewing - If you have a pet who constantly chews his or her paws or scratches a lot, you might have a pet suffering from allergies. However, there is a difference between dogs and cats. Dogs are usually evident in their itchiness, but cats often hide it by overgrooming themselves out of sight, like in a closet or under the bed.
Ear Infections - Got a dog with chronic ear infections? It could be a sign of an allergy. You might also see your dog paw his ears or shake his head a lot. These can be signs of ear problems.
Gastro-Intestinal Disorders - Upset tummies or diarrhoea are also common allergy symptoms in dogs and cats. If it’s frequent, it will require medical assistance to determine the source of the problem.
Other symptoms include headaches, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing. All the same allergy symptoms that you’d expect in people can affect your dog or cat.
No one wants to suffer from allergies. So, what are the most common allergies, and what’s the treatment for them?
What Are the Most Common Allergies for Dogs and Cats?
Pet allergies mimic human allergies. After all, they’re exposed to many of the same things, so it makes sense, they’re allergic to the same items.
Environmental Allergies - Also known as atopic dermatitis, environmental allergens are when everyday things like pollen, grass, and mold trigger the immune system.
Food - Wheat, chicken, beef, animals can be hypersensitive to virtually any food product though grains and certain meats are some of the most common allergens. That’s why you see aisles of grain-free and novel protein foods at the pet store.
Fleas - These parasites are a problem anyway. Using your dog or cat as a host, laying dozens of hundreds of eggs to take over your home, and causing constant itching in both people and pets, make fleas an unwelcome house guest no matter what. Add in a flea allergy on top of it, and it’s definitely no fun. This allergy sometimes accompanies an environmental allergen too.
Build a healthier immune system with a healthy diet, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and regular flea/tick treatments. You’ll want to talk with your veterinarian about specific diets and treatment options. For example, some animals do well on allergy medications while you build up their immune system. Others do well on omega 3 fatty acids.
The type of treatment depends on your individual pet. How severe are the allergies? What’s their age? How healthy are they otherwise? All of these play a role in treating your dog or kitty.
Now that you know some of the typical allergy symptoms in dogs and cats, what do you think? Does your pet show these symptoms?