Pet allergies are a thing. Much like us humans… cats and dogs can suffer from allergy symptoms too, and each pet will react differently to the changing seasons. Allergies develop when your pet’s immune system responds to an allergen. So what are some things that our pets are allergic to? Well pretty much all the same things that humans can be allergic to! They can be allergic to mold, pollen, ragweed, dust mites, and foods. They can even suffer from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are a huge problem in veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, the symptoms of allergies are often a little subtler and harder to spot in our furry family members.
Aside from food allergies and flea bites, some of the most common allergen-causing elements in a home include cleaning products, fabrics, petroleum-based products such as certain rubbers and plastics, perfumes and air fresheners, and even cigarette smoke. Allergies change and develop throughout your pet’s life, so things that may have once been okay… can suddenly cause allergic reactions.
Molds can be reduced by using a dehumidifier or placing activated charcoal on top of the exposed dirt in your house plants. Dusts and pollens are best controlled by using an air cleaner with a HEPA filter. Air conditioning can also reduce circulating amounts of airborne allergens because windows are then kept closed.
Here is a list of 7 signs your pet may be suffering from allergies:
1. Aggressive Paw Licking
Both allergies and parasites can cause itchy paws and aggressive licking. Cats often lick their paws as a normal part of their grooming habit, however, compulsive paw licking is a common sign of allergies in dogs. If the paw pads and feet appear normal, the licking could be due to a skin condition (dermatitis), which often is the result of bacterial problems, allergies, or food sensitivities. Your pet could develop dermatitis by being allergic to chemicals used in your yard. Remember to keep your pets away from treated areas for the amount of time specified on the pesticide label or until any sprayed pesticides have dried completely, whichever is longer. Finally, ensure all pesticides are securely stored in locations where your furballs cannot access them. While many pesticide products may be beneficial, poor planning or improper use of pesticides can harm your pets.
Parasite infections such as fleas or mange can cause the paws to be very itchy. It’s important to recognize that licking behavior can be indicative of a health problem or may become harmful to your pet.
2. Inflamed /Infected Skin
One of the more serious side effects of allergies in pets is a skin infection, which is usually related to chronic scratching. Skin infections which can present as skin rashes, red patches, fur loss and scabs/non-healing ‘wounds.’ Like the other infections, the skin infections can be caused by parasites, bacteria or yeasts which make your pet’s skin become itchy. If your pet is constantly biting or scratching, it will make the condition get worse. In addition, the scars will become larger and itchier than before.
Cats, like dogs, can suffer from skin disease caused by allergies. Cat skin allergies can also cause profound itching and pain in cats. Hives may present as multiple ‘bumps’ under the fur (usually appearing within minutes to hours following exposure to the allergen).
Finding the source of the allergy is fundamental to helping both your pets skin heal, and relieving their discomfort. And once the source of the allergy is found, it is important to continue to manage your pet’s allergy to help prevent the skin disease from returning.
3. Scratching and Biting
Did you know that the itch from a flea bite is in fact an allergic reaction? Certain proteins in the flea’s saliva can irritate your pet’s skin and cause an allergic reaction. Pets with these allergic reactions often scratch, bite, lick, and chew excessively at the inflamed area. Allergies are most common in dogs who often react by scratching or biting themselves to relieve the itching.
Seasonal Allergies = Dermatitis. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to environmental particles such as dust, mold, and pollen. Environmental allergies in dogs are called atopy. Scratching is the most common allergy symptom.
If your dog is itching or biting paws, there is a strong chance your dog could be dealing with issues beneath the surface. And while baths and calming balms can help in the short term, they are not addressing the problem at its core.
One of the first signs your dog has a problem might be the development of a “hot spot”… a red, wet irritated area that arises from persistent chewing, licking, scratching or rubbing.
4. Excessive Shedding
Our furballs rely on hair to protect their skin, to help regulate body temperature, and insulate the internal organs from cold and heat. Like our own daily hair loss, some shedding is natural in pets.
The notion that long-haired dogs and cats shed the most is a fallacy. Ideally, owners should brush their pets once a day, but even once a week is helpful to remove excess hair, increase circulation to the skin and importantly to bond with your pet. Regularly wash bedding and blankets (either use a pet-safe sensitive detergent or no detergent at all).
The number one reason for excessive shedding is a poor diet. People go to discount stores, buy a 40-pound bag of cheap food, and then see their pets’ shedding increase. Even though the food meets the minimum quality requirements, it may not have enough protein or nutrients for your pet.
5. Booty Scooting or Licking their Anal Region
Again, this is more prominent in dogs. There’s no question that our dogs do some gross things. Sometimes, dogs lick their butts simply because they have an itch. This is nothing to worry about. Other times, a medical issue could be to blame. Many times anal gland problems in your dog are fairly common and often the cause of dog scooting problems.
A health concern is more likely if you see your dog or cat licking their butt frequently or aggressively. If you’ve noticed your pet licking their butt as well as other parts of the body like the limbs, feet, and torso, allergies are a likely culprit. When licking at the anal region becomes frequent, or it’s accompanied by scooting, redness or inflammation, visible worm segments in the stool, or other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, that pet owners should take note.
6. Ear Infections
Cats rarely get ear infections, but when they do, the cause can be complex. Allergies such as food or pollen could be the cause. A cat will show his discomfort by scratching or pawing at their ear or shaking or tilting their head in the direction of the painful ear.
Inflamed and irritated skin are typical signs of an allergy in dogs, and the skin in the ear is not immune to the changes.ear infections are related to allergies, especially [with] dogs that have ear infections over and over again (big floppy ears).
Allergies can often lead to ear disease in dogs with allergic skin disease, as well as dogs with food sensitivities Signs like shaking of the head and the obvious discomfort of your dog when you try to touch or check his ears will alert you to the fact that along with the allergies, your pet has an ear infection.
7. Respiratory Problems
Respiratory issues tend to affect cats more than dogs. Cats are more sensitive to environmental pollutants. Poor air quality can trigger cats to have allergies, and sometimes the allergies can take the form of respiratory issues. Ensure you treat the environment regularly using a good quality environmental flea treatment. Fleas feed on animals but breed in the surroundings– they particularly like carpets, fabric furnishings and cracks in laminate/wood floorings.
Some dogs are more sensitive to allergens than other dogs. Just like humans, some of us may sneeze occasionally at the onset of allergy season, while others require a visit to the vet for prescription relief. Also, dogs with a weakened immune system may react more severely to allergens.
One of the things with allergies is that they’re always in season. Environmental allergens can include dander, mites, fabrics, and cleaning solutions, which are always in season.
Bottom line… If your pet is showing any of these 7 signs the Hanna S.P.C.A recommend consulting your vet as soon as possible as these symptoms can also be associated with an array of different disorders. The not so good news about pet allergies is that if your pet suffers from them, they’re hard to completely prevent, and they may suffer from them year-round rather than seasonally. They can be especially hard to prevent in dogs, but partnering with your vet to find the source for your pet’s allergies, and the right treatment is the first step towards a happier existence for your furball.
Here at the Hanna S.P.C.A., we have many gorgeous felines looking for their furever homes. Adopting a cat is an immensely rewarding experience and is an opportunity to really make a difference in a cat’s life. Check them out at https://www.hannaspca.com/for-adoption. For more information call 403.854.3700
Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as veterinary, medical, or professional advice.