Description: Allergies are the hypersensitive response of the immune system when it suspects a threat. The overreaction causes an extreme inflammatory response which shows itself as symptoms. The more your animal is exposed to the allergen (the cause for the reaction), the more severe the allergies will be.
Both cats and dogs can suffer from allergies. The condition can be manageable once a veterinarian helps determine the cause of the allergies.
Symptoms: Pet allergies are defined in three categories.
Atopy: The most common form, where pets inhale or come in contact with the allergens. Some typical allergens are dust mites, molds, and pollens. Atopic allergies are usually a seasonal condition. Repetitive symptoms of atopy include chewing at the feet, licking of the side and groin, rubbing of the face, ear infections, hotspots (dogs), scabbing in a specific area (cats), and respiratory problems (usually cats).
Contact Dermatitis: A less common form of allergies in pets, when the skin comes in contact with a chemical or irritant and causes a reaction. Contact dermatitis affects areas of the pet that aren’t protected by hair. Some common causes are soaps, carpet/household cleaners, plastic, flea collars, synthetic fibers, and other substances with chemicals. Some typical symptoms of contact dermatitis are itchiness, red bumps, and hair loss (in severe cases).
Food Allergies: Food allergies are a genetic predisposition and only a small percentage of pets suffer from them. Most dog food allergies are triggered by dairy, beef, soy, eggs, chicken, corn, fish, and pork. Often times, dogs are allergic to more than one thing. Common symptoms of these allergies are chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, reoccurring diarrhea, licking of the feet, and an itchy rear end.
Symptoms can differ depending on the individual animal. On rare occasions, severe allergic reactions may present themselves within 20 minutes of exposure. These might include hives, facial swelling, or shock. If your animal experiences serious symptoms, consult with a veterinarian immediately.
Diagnosis: Veterinarians will often conduct lab tests to diagnose allergies. Some test may include skin tests and food allergy elimination trials.
Treatment: Depending on the type of allergy, the condition can be treated with antibiotics, special diets, or preventative exposure to the allergen.