I Think My Pet Has Allergies. What Can I Do to Help Them?
While many triggers can certainly affect us year round, allergy “season” has officially arrived. This means lots of sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion caused by pollen-producing flowers. Like us, pets can be triggered by plant particles, but they suffer from other allergens, as well, lasting far beyond the typical spring/hay fever season.
A pet’s allergy symptoms differ greatly from our own, however, and they can be incredibly subtle or misleading. If you suspect your pet has allergies to something, but aren’t quite sure, we have some tips to help connect the dots.
Allergies that affect the pets we love can be separated into three different categories:
- Food – Similar to humans, animals may not be able to properly digest certain foods like soy, corn, wheat or dairy. You may see symptoms manifest on the skin, like itching, swelling, hot spots, or oiliness.
- Environmental – Inhaled triggers of environmental allergens will usually be pollen, mold, dust, etc. You may notice respiratory changes or distress, or excessive pawing at the mouth and face.
- Dermatitis – Animals suffer a range of symptoms on their skin when they interface with certain substances like plastic, carpet, or various chemicals. Fleas can cause atopic dermatitis. You might not even know they have symptoms until they experience a secondary skin infection. A rash, hives, or hair loss can accompany dermatitis.
Skin, Nose, Gut
If your pet has allergies, they most likely suffer from triggers to their skin (dermatitis), nose (environmental), or gut (food). Allergens enter the body and stimulate an antibody response. When your pet comes into contact with the trigger again, the antibodies multiply and trigger a natural histamine response. What’s next? Inflammation.
From Bad to Worse
You might not know that your pet has allergies until they have dangerous symptoms. Extreme allergic reactions aren’t common, but they can occur. If you notice any swelling of the face, drop in blood pressure, paleness, collapse, hives, and/or respiratory distress, please seek emergency veterinary help right away.
When Your Pet Has Allergies
If you suspect your pet has allergies, we highly recommend bringing them in for an appointment. They might be suffering through a great deal of pain and discomfort caused by endless itchiness.
Knowing what type of allergy they have can be determined by blood test, and helps guide the course of treatment. In the case of dermatitis, your pet may require long term management of symptoms.
How to Cope
There are several approaches to treating allergies in pets, including prescription medications. However, to truly control your pet’s responses to triggers, it’s important to figure out exactly what they’re allergic to. Controlling their exposure to the triggers can make all the difference. Cutting out a certain ingredient, changing household cleaners or detergent, bathing and skin products, and preventing parasites are a few tried and true methods.