white and brown cat bathing on a wooden table

Can Pets Have Allergies?

Can Pets Have Allergies?

Are you a pet owner concerned that your beloved fur-baby might have an allergy? You’re not alone – allergies are surprisingly common in pets, just like they can be for humans. If your dog has allergies, symptoms could appear as early as 6 months, but most dogs with allergies are over one to two years old¹. The good news is that there are steps you can take to find out if your pet has allergies and how to manage them for a happier, healthier life for both of you! Hello

black and white dog scratching behind their ear in a field of flowers
Noticing your dog is itching more? Your pet may have allergies.

Find out:

1. What are the signs of pet allergies in dogs and cats?

2. Flea Allergy Dermatitis

3. How does diet play into pet allergies and what foods should you avoid feeding your furry friend if they have allergies?

4. What about environmental factors – is there anything else I can do to help my pet with their allergies?

5. When should you take your pet to the vet for allergy treatment options?

Pet Allergy Symptoms

Signs of pet allergies in dogs and cats vary from one pet to another, but they can generally include

    • itchy skin,
    • rashes,
    • excessive scratching or biting of the skin,
    • ear infections,
    • scabbing or redness of the skin,
    • hair loss, and
    • runny eyes.

Additionally, pets may experience sneezing or coughing due to an allergic reaction.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is when a dog is allergic to the saliva of a flea¹. If your dog is bitten by a flea, usually they will itch or have some irritation. But if your dog is severely scratching and itching to the point that they are losing hair and fur and making themselves bleed, they may be having an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which is a common insect allergen for pets. If your dog’s allergic reaction to the flea bite is severe, please go to the vet where they will give your dog medicine for immediate relief. Then, if your dog isn’t already, start using a monthly topical for flea prevention. Flea shampoos and flea comb are another great way to kill and remove fleas that are currently on your dog. Lastly, use a flea house spray and flea yard spray to prevent further future infestations.

Senior dog sniffing a bowl of dry dog food
Your pet may have a food allergy.

Food and Pet Allergies

Food allergies in pets are potentially caused by protein or carbohydrate sources. However, proteins in your pet’s food, like chicken, beef, lamb, eggs, and soy, are the most common food allergies¹ for pets. Consider the Elimination Diet method when trying to narrow down what food is causing your pet to have an allergic reaction. The most important thing to consider when feeding an elimination diet is to avoid ALL ingredients that are not part of that temporary diet. An elimination diet can take 12 weeks or even longer, but the results are trustworthy and the cost is minimal compared to other less effective methods of determining allergens.

Check out this excerpt from our blog, “What are Food Allergies and How Do I Stop Them.”

  • Isolate the primary ingredients in your pet’s food down to two: one meat and one carbohydrate.
  • The selected protein and carbohydrate sources should be something that you can be relatively certain is not causing the problem.
  • Select protein sources that your pet has had minimal contact. Some options include: pork, bison, turkey, duck, and kangaroo.
  • Some great carbohydrate source options include: sweet potatoes, lentils, tapioca, and garbanzo beans.
  • Other ingredients in the food should either be a healthy fat source, such as: fish oil, coconut oil or olive oil; or a simple vitamin or mineral supplement which should contain little to no allergic potential

Let’s Begin:

  • The food you have carefully chosen should be fed as the sole diet for your pet. This includes any dog treats or table scraps. Absolutely nothing else!
  • Observe your pets for an increase or decrease in symptoms. If symptoms begin to improve, then your pets should remain on that diet for up to 12 weeks or until the symptoms have completely subsided. If symptoms begin to worsen, it’s time to abandon one of the two primary ingredients and replace it with a different novel source.
  • It’s important that you only replace one ingredient at a time and then make note of the dates, ingredients, and any noticeable changes or benefits in our pet’s response.
  • Continue to rotate through ingredients until a combination that drastically decreases or completely eliminates any symptoms is found.
  • At this point, you can start adding one ingredient at a time to your pet’s diet, in the form of treats or other similar pet food formulas, all the while taking note of your pet’s responses to each ingredient.
  • This is how you can figure out, one by one, which ingredients your pets can tolerate.

Environmental Factors

Another important consideration when dealing with pet allergies is to identify and remove any environmental allergens that could be causing your pet’s reactions. Common substances such as molds, dust mites, dander, pollens, weeds, and grasses can all cause allergic reactions in pets. Keeping the house clean and removing or reducing exposure to these elements can help reduce allergy symptoms in pets.

woman vacuuming a rug with a dog looking
Keeping your house clean of environmental factors, like dust mites, can help reduce your pet’s allergy symptoms.

 

Additionally, you may need to change bedding materials that can collect allergens such as feathers or down pillows. You should also bathe your pet regularly with a mild shampoo designed for sensitive skin to help control shedding of allergens throughout the home environment. Furthermore, air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can be another beneficial tool for controlling airborne irritants and helping ease allergy symptoms in pets. All of these strategies combined should help keep your pet’s allergies under control so they can live their best life!

Ask a Veterinarian for Help

Calico cat get checked out at the vet
If symptoms persist, seek help from your veterinarian for next steps!

 

If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from severe allergies, it is important to take them to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will be able to provide you with a comprehensive plan for treating your pet’s allergies and determine the root cause, whether it be food or environmental. They can also recommend medications, dietary changes, and other measures to help control your pet’s allergies.

Pet allergies are a common problem among both cats and dogs. It is important to identify any potential triggers or allergens soon in order to properly manage the symptoms associated with these conditions.

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Related Blogs: What are Food Allergies and How Do I Stop Them?, Dermatology & Our Pets: Vet Advice on Common Skin Conditions, Such as Allergies and Ear Infections, Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? 

¹ “Allergies in Dogs: VCA Animal Hospital.” Vca, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-general-in-dogs.

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