Pets can have allergies too!
Spring is typically the season when people can suffer from many kinds of allergies. Most of them are caused by pollen in the air, which can cause sneezing, itching, breathing difficulties and other symptoms. It isn’t just humans who can suffer from seasonal allergies either, your pets can also suffer in exactly the same or similar ways that we do. For this reason it is extremely important to be on the lookout in spring and summer for your pet displaying allergy signs.
Allergies fall into four different categories, contact, flea, environmental or food allergies. Your vet will be able to tell you exactly which of these types of allergies your pet has, but by observing your pet closely, you can get a good idea of which type of allergy it is likely to be. The most common sign of an allergic reaction in a pet is scratching. This means they have an itchy skin, and while dogs especially always seem to be scratching to some degree, you should keep an eye out for them scratching more vigorously and frequently than usual.
The most common type of pet allergy is an adverse reaction to a flea bite. Your pet will be sensitive to the saliva of the flea when it bites. Some animals have no reaction to fleas, but most do. The itching and irritation is usually intense with your pet scratching or biting the infected area with a lot more intensity and frequency than usual. This usually lasts a few days. Try to inspect the site of the itching. Look for flea eggs, little white dots, and flea dirt (feces) in the area that your pet is scratching. If you find them, then a flea allergy is most likely and a treatment plan for your pet, home and yard will be needed.
Environmental allergies, such as hay fever in humans, tend to produce a running nose and sneezing. With animals it tends to be the whole-body is affected. Itching can be all over the body, rather than focused on a specific area. Dogs especially can suffer from ear infections and inflamed ears. Your pet might also display some of the more human-like symptoms like coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. Environmental allergies are usually seasonal, especially in spring time.
Food allergies in your pet can happen at any time of the year. Food allergies happen because the animal’s immune system becomes hypersensitive to a protein in the food. This type of pet allergy is not nearly as common as other types. They account for around 10% of pet allergies overall. In cats, dairy products, seafood, and beef tend to be the main food allergy culprits, and with dogs, dairy products, eggs, wheat, beef, lamb, chicken and soy products are the ones to look out for.
The least likely type of allergy that your pet might have is contact dermatitis. This type of allergy is the result of your pet coming into contact with something that it reacts badly to. This includes soaps, detergents and shampoos, wool, carpets, synthetic fibers, plastic, rubber or insecticides. The site of the contact will usually become red and irritated, causing itching.
If you are concerned for your pet, and thinking it might be suffering from an allergy of some kind, take them to your local pet dermatologist clinic. The dermatologist will be able to quickly assess the type of allergy and treat appropriately.
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