Caitlin UltimoHealth / Symptoms & Solutions

Common Causes and Symptoms of Pet Allergies

Anya was an 18-month-old pup recently adopted by a new family. While she settled into her new home nicely, she had to make several trips to the vet. She always had green and yellow gook in her eyes, her coat was dry and she was constantly scratching at herself. The vet prescribed antibiotics, which worked for a little while. But once the medicine ran out, the infections would come right back.

Anya’s vet took a look at her diet. It was good food, but the primary ingredient was beef—the most common allergen for pets. She recommended that Anya’s parents try a new diet that was fish or duck based instead. Skeptical, they transitioned  Anya to a different kibble. Within two weeks, her eye infections disappeared, her coat was shinier and her skin was healthy and free of any rashes or dryness. Just by switching foods, Anya’s parents eliminated her allergy, and the battles with infections ended. After three years, Anya has never had another skin or eye infection, and simply because her vet took the time to consider potential allergies.

Even the most caring pet parents don’t realize how frequently pet allergies can develop. But just like people, dogs and cats can develop allergies to their environment or pet food. If your pet is allergic, it can show up in many different ways, from ear infections to skin dryness. Protecting your pets against allergens can make them more comfortable and keep them healthy.

Common Pet Allergy Causes

Some of the most common pet allergies are caused by fleas; skin irritation, rashes and itchiness are all common symptoms of flea bites and flea saliva. After eliminating a possible flea allergy, some other common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, fish and pollen.

Cat and dog allergies are caused by the animal’s immune system overreacting to the allergens. Some breeds are more susceptible to pet allergies than others. For instance, Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, English setters and Boston terriers are a few breeds that more commonly experience dog allergies. Cats allergies exist too, but not enough research has been completed to identify which breeds are most at risk.

Allergy Symptoms

Cats and dogs have the same symptoms in response to allergens. The most common symptoms include:

  • Constant scratching
  • Ear infections
  • Skin infections
  • Skin dryness or irritation
  • Eye infections

Ear infections tend to be one of the first signs of a dog or cat allergy. Many pets will have ear issues as their only symptom and, if left untreated, the infections can escalate and cause other problems, including deafness. Infections of the ears, skin and eyes are often treated with antibiotics, but if the cause of the allergy is not addressed, the infections will keep occurring.

Treating Allergies

If you have allergies yourself, you know that treating them can be difficult, as identifying the source of the problem isn’t always easy. If your pet has a food allergy, it may take trying several different kinds of foods until you hit on one that works. In other cases, your cat’s or dog’s allergies may be related to a particular brand of pet shampoo or house cleaner.

Whether you suspect allergies or just notice your pet having odd recurring health issues, your vet is always your first line of defense. Discuss your pet’s symptoms so your vet can help you uncover the underlying cause. Even under a vet’s care, treating allergies is very much a trial-and-error process. However, the vet can help guide you through the process safely and suggest ways to make your pal more comfortable. He may be able to prescribe a gentle antihistamine to help manage symptoms like runny noses, skin irritation or eye issues, until you are able to identify the allergy-causing culprit.

If you think your pet may have be experiencing allergies, ask your vet about switching your pet to a limited ingredient diet cat food or dog food. If fleas are the cause, discuss topical and oral medications, as well as medicated flea collars to find the best solution for your pet. And, for environmental allergies, discuss moist allergy-relief pet wipes—a simple solution that helps minimize reactions.

 

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