Humans aren’t the only ones susceptible to allergies. Just like people, our pets can experience allergic reactions to an assortment of allergens. And unfortunately, pet allergies can cause the same intense suffering that people with allergies experience, too.
What Causes Pet Allergies?
Allergies, in both pets and people, are caused by the body’s immune system over-reacting to an otherwise non-toxic substance. Upon contact with the allergen, certain cells (known as mast cells) in the allergy sufferer’s body release histamines into the bloodstream. These histamines are responsible for itching, watery red eyes, rashes, coughing and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Common culprits behind allergic reactions or food intolerance in pets are:
- Foods (corn, chicken, seafood, preservatives, additives, wheat, soy, and others)
- Mold spores
- Dust mites or insect feces and body parts
- Fleas or other insect bites (such as kissing bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, etc.)
- Cigarette smoke
- Cleaning or laundry products
- Flea and tick collars or shampoos
Common Symptoms of Allergies or Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic dermatitis means “an inflammation of the skin caused by an allergic reaction”. In addition to irritating the skin, allergic dermatitis can also include inflammation of delicate ear tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, nose and throat. If the allergen is in food, digestive mishaps are apt to follow, too.
The key word for pet allergy symptoms is itchy. Allergies most often present as:
- Itchy, watery eyes, ears and/or nose
- Itchy back, front, stomach or anywhere in between
- Rolling, scratching, hair loss and/or chewing
- Swelling of the muzzle or affected part
- Raised red welts or rashes
Other symptoms of allergic reaction can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, coughing, snoring and, understandably, a bad attitude.
What to Do?
If you notice a correlation between an environmental situation and a reaction in your furry friend, make sure to mention this information when you schedule your pet’s veterinary visit. If you can see the effect but not the cause, or if a reaction is sudden and severe, see your vet right away. Your vet can administer tests to determine the specific cause of your pet’s allergies. Dietary or environmental changes, antihistamines, or anti-allergy shots may be in order.
Speaking of Medications
If you suspect your pet has allergies, do not attempt to treat them with over-the-counter or “all natural” remedies, unless instructed by your vet. Medicating your pet with over-the-counter analgesics or cough suppressants could seriously harm, or even kill, your pet.
If you have questions about pet allergies or need to make an appointment, contact us — we’re always here to help!