It may not seem like a cause for alarm if your dog is itching. That’s what dogs do, after all! Right? Well… What many pet owners do not realize is that there are allergies in pets. If you are one of the 68% of pet-owning households in the U.S., here is what you need to know about pets and allergies.
Know The Symptoms
If your pet is suffering from allergies, you may notice: excessive itching, scratching and biting, paw licking, respiratory issues such as sneezing or coughing, and scooting. (Scooting, for the uninitiated dog or cat owner, is when pets rub their bottoms along a rug or surface, typically to scratch an itch.)
Veterinarians also recommend paying close attention to pets’ skin health. If pets’ skin is inflamed, red, flaky, dry, cracked, or oily, that is often a telltale sign of a problem. When in doubt, it is always best to schedule an appointment with the vet.
Treating Allergies in Pets
For both cats and dogs, the best treatment is avoiding exposure to allergens if at all possible. Prevention may be best in the event of food allergies or a flea bite allergy. If your dog or cat has a food allergy, the vet will do diagnostic tests to determine the source of the problem. Once identified, your pet will be placed on a special diet avoiding this food or food additive.
Pets can have allergic reactions to flea bites! Female fleas lay 2,000 eggs in their lifetimes. In other words, many pets are exposed to fleas and flea bites at least semi-regularly. A non-allergic pet with fleas may show no symptoms, or perhaps may itch or scratch more often. An allergic pet will have red, inflamed skin and may lose patches of fur or hair as they chew or bite at these areas. To prevent future allergic reactions to flea bites, a rigorous flea control routine is a must. Veterinarians and pet hospitals may prescribe topical treatments, flea collars, sprays, or oral medications.
While prevention is best, it may be too late for existing allergies. Topical treatments, shampoos, antihistamines, and corticosteroids may be used to soothe your pet and relieve his or her symptoms. Similarly, some allergies–like seasonal allergies–are unavoidable. For pets with seasonal allergies, it is important to take steps to manage symptoms and mitigate them as much as possible. In these instances, vets may once again prescribe specially formulated shampoos and topical treatments. They may also recommend allergy testing periodic shots, or food supplements to minimize allergy symptoms.
Cats and dogs are different. It is important to tackle cat allergies specifically for the best results. For example, if your cat is exhibiting respiratory symptoms or skin symptoms of allergies and you suspect that he or she may be allergic to dust or chemicals, changing your cat’s litter is a good place to start. Purchase dust-free and chemical-free litter for allergy-prone cats. Similarly, while it is often safe–and recommended–to let cats do their own thing when it comes to cleaning themselves, vets may recommend biweekly baths for cats with fleas or persistent allergies.
Dogs, on the other hand, might be exposed to more allergens as they regularly go outside. Pay close attention. If you suspect that your dog may be allergic to grass, ask the vet to confirm it. Once confirmed, a dog with a glass allergy may be better suited to walk on pavement, dirt roads, or the beach. Another option is purchasing special boots and socks for your dog. That will allow him or her to enjoy their time outdoors without direct skin exposure to grass and other irritants.
Roughly 95% of pet owners describe pets as members of the family. Do not let your furry family members suffer in silence! Take dogs and cats to the vet at the first sign of allergies in pets and develop a plan with your vet to treat, manage, or prevent them.
At Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center we are happy to provide a wide range of veterinary specialty and emergency services. It is important to have a “primary care” veterinarian to keep your new family member healthy and happy with routine vaccinations and health checks. But if you find yourself in the midst of a veterinary emergency, our team of experienced veterinarians is here to help. When it comes to visiting animal hospitals, we understand that the experience can be full of stress and worry, so we aim to make things as simple as possible. For more information, get in touch with one of our experts today.