The short answer to this question is yes, your cat or dog can certainly have allergies and will need to be treated for them. Most other common pets can have allergies too, of course, and most of the time they are harmless, though probably quite irritating for the pet concerned.
Allergies are caused by an over-active immune system. This is true whether in humans or animals. The problem is when the immune system, designed to protect us, thinks that something harmless is actually a threat. Your pet’s body reacts to the pollen, or other substance, in such a way that typically it will develop an itchy skin, sneeze, wheeze, cough, vomit or have diarrhea, or some other type of reaction.
In most common pets the effects of an allergy can often be seen on their skin. There can be patches of scabbed skin, or the patches may be moist and red, and will most likely be itchy, evidenced by your pet regularly scratching it.
Your pet may have runny eyes and the areas around the ears that are itchy. The paws may be swollen, causing your pet to regularly chew and lick them in an attempt to lessen the discomfort. Your pet may also have an inflamed throat, which may cause it to snore loudly when asleep.
There are many substances that can cause an allergic reaction in your pet dog or cat. These include pollens from trees, grasses or weeds; cigarette smoke; perfumes; materials made from plastic and rubber; certain foods; house dust mites; mold spores; and insecticidal shampoo.
There are many other things that might also give your pet allergies. If your pet is exhibiting signs of an allergy, try to work out what it is they are reacting to, and if possible, remove that substance, item or food from their environment.
The types of allergies that affect pets can be broken down into roughly four different categories. These are atopy, flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies, and contact allergies. Atopy can be seasonal. For example, a ragweed allergy will usually be seen in the fall, while a tree pollen allergy will be seen in spring.
About 10% to 15% of all allergies in pets are food allergies. Signs include itching in the anal area, the side limbs, feet, face, ears and trunk. There may also be skin infections, and an increase in bowel movements with the stool being soft. If you suspect a food allergy in your pet, try changing the diet and monitor what changes, if any, can be seen.
Contact dermatitis comes from your pet being in contact with particular materials or substances. These may be anything from plastic coverings to various types of household cleaning fluids. With contact dermatitis your pet will scratch intensely and often. There may be some hair loss, and there may be itchy blisters and bumps, possibly on the feet, belly or muzzle.
Remember, your pet depends on you to help it if it develops an allergy. You can, of course, take it along to the vet who will diagnose the problem properly, but it is up to you to recognize there is a problem in the first place. For this reason, make it a habit to notice if your pet starts behaving in an unusual manner. There will be a reason, and that reason could be that your pet has developed an allergy.