While it’s well-known that people can be allergic to various types of animals, pet owners are sometimes surprised to learn their pets can have allergies too. We hope to change that, especially since July is National Allergy Awareness Month. Before you can recognize and treat allergies in your pet, it’s important to know the types of things they are allergic to.
The shed skin of people and the dander of animals create microscopic dust mites. At a size of approximately 300 microns, they are impossible to see. In spite of this, house mites are the leading cause of allergies in both people and pets. When your dog or cat inhales them, it can cause respiratory distress and a skin condition called atopic dermatitis.
Fleas and Insects
Fleas require a warm-blooded animal host for survival. They get into your pet’s fur and can make her miserable by causing excessive itching. It’s never too early to start your puppy or kitten on year-round flea protection to prevent this. Insect bites are a more common allergy trigger in horses.
Your pet can develop an allergy if he regularly inhales the pollen from grass, weeds, trees, and plants. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early spring and fall, so it’s best to keep an animal with allergies inside until there is less pollen in the air. Horses may develop an allergy to hay, so be certain to look for possible indications.
Some dogs and cats are highly sensitive to the ingredients in commercial pet food, especially meat, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and yeast. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, our staff can recommend a hypoallergenic or grain-free alternative. Food allergies are less common in horses, but may include grains, grasses, or the additives in supplements and natural feeds.
Common Allergy Symptoms in Dogs, Cats & Horses
Excessive scratching and scooting, which is when your dog or cat scoots on his rear end across the floor, are two of the most common signs of animal allergies. Others include:
- Offensive odors
- Infections of the skin
- Rubbing the ace
- Diarrhea or an increased number of bowel movements
- Frequent ear infections
- Watery eyes
- Nasal drainage
- Difficulty breathing
With severe allergies, your pet may scratch so much that she creates bald spots on her skin.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before you can treat a pet allergy effectively, you need to know what it is. We recommend scheduling an appointment for testing if symptoms don’t resolve within a few days. Additionally, our parasite prevention and control program can help keep many allergies at bay. Make an appointment with us today if your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, and Dr. Greg will advise you on the best plan of treatment for your pet.
Photo credit: Neonci | iStock