The summer is generally a very happy time for your pets–they get to play outside, go for long walks and bask in the sun. It can also be a very itchy time for your pets, though, all because of allergies!
What Are Allergies?
Allergies occur when the body is exposed to an allergen that causes an ‘overreaction’ in the immune system. When a dog has an allergy, their body will react in order to rid themselves of it (even though it may actually be a completely harmless substance!) The body becomes hypersensitive nonetheless, and in an attempt to shed themselves of the allergen, various unpleasant symptoms will occur.
What Are Common Allergies for Cats and Dogs?
In both cats and dogs, the flea allergy is the most common! It may not seem like fleas are there, but take a closer look! They are harder to spot than you think. If you want to learn more about fleas, visit this link. Following flea allergies, food allergies, and atopic dermatitis are the most common. If a food allergy is suspected, then it is common for a veterinarian to suggest feeding your pet a strict diet with only ingredients it has never eaten before. After a trial period, if the itching has stopped, then it is likely that a food ingredient caused the allergy! The original diet will be re-instituted, and if itching returns then it is confirmed. Atopic dermatitis is the term used for a reaction to the allergens that we most commonly envision when we think of allergies–i.e. dust mites and pollen. For this kind of allergy, various diagnostic tests can be taken to find the root of the issue, and a treatment plan will be created from there.
What are the Symptoms for Allergies in My Pets?
In humans, it is common to experience symptoms such as asthma, or a runny nose. For animals, though, it is more common to see skin problems. These can exist in the form of redness, infections, itching, hair loss and even increased sensitivity when coming in contact with their owners! Other symptoms include: sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, paw chewing and constant licking.
How Can I Treat Allergies in my Pets?
Unfortunately, allergies cannot be fully cured, and often are life-long ordeals. Many treatment options are available though for all animals depending on their specific allergy. Many symptoms can be improved, or eliminated if the allergy is diagnosed by your veterinarian, and the subsequent treatment plan is administered properly. This can take the form of oral medications, injections, creams and supplements.
In the meantime, it is a good idea to bathe your dog regularly, especially following walks. This can help to remove any pollen or other allergen that may have stuck to your pet! You can even purchase special prescription shampoos to help with itching. If dust is the problem, then cleaning your pet’s bedding and frequent vacuuming can help to reduce symptoms. Removal of the allergen altogether is the best way to keep your pet feeling comfortable!
Foil, C. S. (2007, July 9). Itching and allergy in dogs. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2604
(n.d.). Allergies in dogs. Retrieved from Web MD website: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/allergies-dogs
Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury