How to Manage Pet Allergies
Just like humans, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies that persist throughout the year. In fact, allergies in pets is one of the most common issues we see in our patients. The symptoms can be intense and can severely impact your pet’s quality of life (and yours).
Types of Pet Allergies
An allergy is defined as an overreaction of the immune system to a particular substance. We typically see the following types of allergies in pets:
- Flea allergy – An extremely common allergy caused by flea saliva, this usually results in dermatitis or other skin issues.
- Environmental allergy – This includes common particles found in the home or outdoors, such as dust, mold, or dander. It can also be seasonal in nature (e.g., pollen or plants).
- Contact allergy – Triggered through inhalation or direct contact, this allergy can be the result of exposure to a substance or chemical, such as carpet fibers, shampoos, or household cleaners.
- Food allergy – Although only 20% of allergies in pets are related to food, they can have serious consequences. The most common food triggers are proteins like beef, chicken, or soy (rarely wheat or grain products).
An Itchy Situation
Humans associate allergies with a runny nose, itchy eyes, or a scratchy throat, but symptoms in pets tend to manifest as skin-related issues. Common signs of pet allergies include:
- Intense scratching or licking of the face, ears, paws, or groin area
- Red, swollen, or inflamed skin
- Head shaking
- Pawing at the ears and face
- Hair loss
- Red, watery eyes
- Open sores or hot spots
- Anal gland troubles
- Intestinal issues (as a result of food allergies)
Treating Pet Allergies
If you suspect your pet has allergies, it’s important to see your veterinarian right away. Besides causing significant discomfort, allergies can weaken a pet’s immune system, and persistent scratching can lead to secondary infections.
Once we determine the cause of your pet’s allergies (there are a variety of testing methods available), we can develop a treatment plan. This may include the use of oral antihistamines, topical medications, or allergy shots.
Help at Home
Good at-home care is essential to managing pet allergies. You can help relieve your pet’s symptoms with the following tips:
- Bathe your pet regularly using a veterinarian-approved hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner.
- Soak your pet’s paws daily to soothe inflammation and to prevent them from tracking allergens into the home.
- Keep your home free of allergens with routine dusting and vacuuming. Also launder your pet’s bedding regularly.
- Supplement your pet’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids to support skin health.
- Follow your veterinarian’s dietary recommendations.
Please contact us with additional questions or concerns about pet allergies.