Pet Allergies

Pets experience severe allergic reactions just like humans. Recognizing common triggers and knowing what to do if symptoms appear will help you keep your pet healthy and limit risks. Here’s some information from our veterinarian to get you started.

What is an allergic reaction?

Your pet’s immune system is responsible for defending the body against bacteria and viruses. In some cases, the immune system will defend against substances that typically don’t pose a threat to your pet’s body. These substances are allergens, and when your pet reacts to them, it causes an allergic reaction. The allergen may originate from animal, plant or chemical sources. The more times your pet is exposed to a specific allergen, the more likely it is that he or she will have a strong adverse reaction. The immune system produces an exaggerated response resulting in inflammatory conditions and in worse case situations, critical and/or fatal reactions.

Common Allergic Reactions

  1. Fleas.   Unchecked flea infestation is a never ending torment for pets. Fleas gravitate indoors on clothing and hidden in pet fur. Many dogs and cats are extremely allergic to even a few flea bites.  Exposed pets may develop a severe rash, scratching and chewing at affected areas.  Fleas prefer their pet host but will bite humans when exposed.  This usually results in a red itchy lesion similar to a mosquito bite. One female flea can lay 500 eggs in under 2 weeks. The environment, both indoors and outside, should be treated to kill and prevent future infestations. Keeping all your pets on a veterinary recommended prevention product all year round is key in preventing future flea infestations.
  2. Food allergies may develop at any life stage. Puppies, adults, older dogs, all groups may suddenly develop a sensitivity to something in their food.  Common Proteins are usually the cause of allergic reactions, but food colorings and artificial ingredients may also trigger nausea, vomiting, skin rash, diarrhea and other symptoms. If your dog suddenly starts vomiting and you don’t see any obvious reason, consult our veterinarian. It is important not to allow your dog to dehydrate.  Food allergy symptoms that gradually get worse over time include weight loss, excess loss of hair, lethargy, and ear infections. A 10–12 week food trial using a specialized dermatitis diet will often show that a food allergy exists.
  3. Seasonal, Inhalant, and contact allergies.  Tree and plant pollen is a major cause of skin allergies for dogs.  An indication of season allergies are symptoms manifesting about the same time every year.  Usually in spring and fall due to high pollen/mold counts. Some pets have an allergic response after merely walking through grass. Like humans, certain dogs may be sensitive to common household cleaners, perfume, shampoo, aerosol sprays.  It’s rare but dogs can also be allergic to people dander. Imagine that!

How Can Our Veterinarian Help?

Our veterinarian is available to exam your pet and research symptoms and exposures. We want to assist with determining environmental triggers that may be causing the allergic reactions. We can work together to keep your sensitive pet healthy, happy, and protected from allergies. Give our office a call today to schedule an allergy exam.