Pet allergies can leave you scratching your head. In fact, dogs and cats, like humans, can develop allergies. But because your pet can’t tell you what they think is bothering them, it’s up to the responsible pet owner to recognize and avoid common allergens, and to respond appropriately during those times your pets do have reactions.
This two-part blog post will highlight some important facts about cat and dog allergies and help you begin the process of dealing with them.
The most common pet allergens are similar to the most common human allergens, which is why this info is especially relevant during the emerging spring: trees, grass, weeds, dander, dust mites, feathers, prescription drugs, fabrics, mold spores, and the like. Other possible allergens include cleaning products, insecticidal shampoo, cigarette smoke, fleas, fragrances, and often, food.
Avoidance is obviously the first line of defense against an allergic reaction. Know your dog is allergic to a certain fabric? Leave it out of your design plans.
Of course, you don’t always know. And even when you do, there are some things you can’t avoid regardless of effort, like dust. But recognizing signs of allergies can be a great way to determine what the allergen is, and to help you deal with it quickly and effectively.
Common signs of an allergic reaction in a dog or cat almost always involve skin health. (Other tip offs include breathing and gastrointestinal issues.) Itchy, red, dry, flaky, oily or damaged skin might indicate an allergy, but the type is up in the air; even food allergies usually manifest as skin issues in cats and dogs.
That’s why you may need to be hyper aware of your pet’s “normal.” Is your dog literally always itchy, since birth? You might just have an itchy dog, who doesn’t have an allergy. If you notice your cat only experiences breathing issues in springtime, a seasonal allergy may be to blame.
If a single fleabite causes weeks of itchiness, it’s a good indication your pet is allergic.
And if your dog suddenly develops redness or flakiness or is experiencing an odor issue you’ve never noticed before, it could be time to see a vet to determine the cause of the allergy, which can be achieved with a dermatological or blood test. In the case of a suspected food allergy, the process can be lengthy, involving an elimination diet and several follow up visits.
Next week, we’ll discuss the most common and probably irritating of all allergens: fleas. We’ll talk about identifying the difference between a flea bite and a flea allergy, and steps you can take to deal with your pets’ reactions with as little fuss as possible.
Has your pet been an allergy sufferer? How did you find out? Share your story in a comment on our Facebook page.