People can have allergies to many different things, both indoors and outdoors. However, humans aren’t the only ones who suffer from this problem. Cats and dogs have allergies to many of the same things, ranging from mild seasonal allergies to more severe conditions that last throughout their lifetimes. If your pet has allergies, knowing their triggers can help you prevent the onset of new symptoms and treat those they already have.
Common Cat and Dog Allergies
Many pet owners don’t recognize the symptoms of dog allergies or cat allergies until the vet diagnoses them. Most of the allergies seen in cats and dogs are skin-based and not systemic. As a result, treating the dermatitis on the skin is all it usually takes to heal the irritation. Signs of a skin allergy include itchiness, skin infections, dry eyes, ear pain, dry skin and chronic ear infections. These allergies are more likely to cause symptoms of discomfort than serious health problems. However, there are risks of compromising a pet’s life or health if these allergies remain untreated over the long term.
Cats and dogs share some of the same types of allergies. Some require short-term treatment, while others require lifelong management. Many also require lifestyle changes depending on the type of allergy and the pet’s exposure to triggers. Some of the most common types of allergies in pets include:
Sensitivity to Flea Bites
Flea bites cause itchy skin in most animals. However, flea bites can cause an allergic reaction called flea allergic dermatitis, or FAD, in some dogs and cats. FAD is one of the most common causes of allergies in dogs.
The best approach to controlling flea-induced irritation is through prevention. There are numerous flea prevention products available over-the-counter and by vet prescription. Once animals develop FAD, they often exhibit persistent itching, clawing, or over-grooming. These actions can lead to sore, irritated areas that bleed on various locations of your pet’s body.
In dogs, allergy symptoms caused by fleas are often more intense in the area from the mid-back to the base of the tail. Other affected areas include the underbelly and thighs. In cats, symptoms are most often visible near their neck and face. They may also develop tiny scabs along the back, a condition known as miliary dermatitis.
Another type of skin allergy is atopic dermatitis, which can occur in dogs and cats. This environmental allergy results from exposure to certain plants, dander, and dust mites. Symptoms can include sores, redness, and inflammation of the pet’s skin, or an ear infection that keeps occurring.
While atopic dermatitis symptoms primarily involve the skin, some animals also experience respiratory symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. Sometimes they develop gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and vomiting.
You should only bathe cats and dogs that suffer from skin allergies with gentle shampoos and conditioners that won’t cause further irritation.
Today, a lot of importance is placed on feeding cats and dogs food that is high in protein and low in animal products and grain. Pet owners should look for protein ingredients such as chicken, beef, dairy, and eggs at the top of the ingredients list.
Overall, focusing on feeding your pet protein-based foods is a great way to provide them with a healthy diet. However, unfortunately, protein sources are often a common cause of an allergic reaction. If you're unable to narrow down your pet's food allergy at home, tests for food allergies can be administered by your vet. Once you know your pet has a specific food allergy, you can control their allergic reactions by feeding them a prescription diet.
Air Pollution Allergies in Cats
Cats are especially prone to environmental allergies resulting from poor air quality. Environmental allergies can cause respiratory issues in cats, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing, otherwise known as “feline asthma.” The kinds of air pollution that cause this type of allergic reaction include cigarette smoke, fragrances, aerosols, or poor air quality in general.
The use of products like NaturVet Aller-911 Allergy Aid Plus Antioxidants can help prevent environmental allergies in cats. In addition, it boosts their immune system and helps maintain proper skin moisture and respiratory health.
Livestock owners with horses, donkeys, and cattle can also give animals medication to treat asthmatic conditions, including shortness of breath. When medicating any pet for allergies, it’s essential to use treatments intended for their species and always follow label instructions. Always speak with your veterinarian for any health-related questions you may have for your animals.
Recognizing the Symptoms of an Allergy Reaction in Cats and Dogs
It can be challenging to discern what exactly your cat or dog is allergic to. However, most allergies are seasonal or acute. For example, an animal might have a puffy face, swollen or watery eyes, or hives on its body. Symptoms may result from an insect bite, a reaction to a vaccination or medication, something in the environment, or an ingredient in its food.
If your dog or cat has signs of an allergic reaction for the first time, you should see a vet. They might identify the cause of your pet’s symptoms with a simple blood test, allergy skin tests, scratch tests, skin prick tests, or through more extensive allergy tests.
Depending on the intensity of the reaction, the pet’s treatment might be limited to cat or dog allergy medicine available for retail purchase, until the condition goes away. If your pet's allergic reaction is chronic or life-threatening, allergy shots may be prescribed. The vet might also recommend lifestyle changes, such as using less irritating shampoo or restricting your pet’s exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke.
When Do Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs and Cats Occur?
Allergies are relatively common in dogs and cats of all breeds. Allergies don’t usually manifest until after six months of age, with most showing up in dogs aged between one and two years. In cats, food allergies don’t usually show up until they are two years of age, while environmental allergies might happen any time before the cat turns five.
Some pets that experience seasonal allergies also develop other types of allergies. They might experience an overlap in symptoms that make it more difficult to find the cause. Taking your pet to the vet for allergy testing will help you understand your pet’s condition and the best course of treatment. Test results will allow your vet the information needed to advise you on prescriptions, lifestyle changes or simple remedies to help keep your pet safe and healthy.
Shop Allergy Skin Care and More at Grange Co-op
At Grange Co-op, we offer top-quality pet care products to help keep your furry friends healthy and strong. Browse our products for pets to help treat your pet’s allergy symptoms. If you have questions, feel free to contact us or visit us in-store to speak with a local Grange Pet Expert for more information. We're proud to provide knowledgeable and friendly customer service, providing you with the information you need to purchase the best products for your pets.