'Tis the Season for Pet Allergies

Think only humans suffer from seasonal allergies? Think again!  Like humans, pets can experience the negative effects of allergies. The most common pet allergies are fleas and seasonal allergies due to environmental elements such as grass and pollen. Symptoms of environmental allergies include sneezing, swelling of the feet, hair loss in the underbelly, and watery eyes.  If your pet experiences hair loss, constant itching, hot spots, or other skin issues that are unresolved or show up continuously, allergies may be the culprit. These symptoms are most prevalent at the beginning of the spring season and may require prescription medicine and specific allergy tests in order to pin point the allergen and to figure out the correct course of action and medication needed to treat the allergies. This is true especially if the symptoms are severe. Sometimes, the allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl (in dogs), If the allergies are more severe, your vet will prescribe medication.

Many pets also have flea allergies, which are easily addressed with monthly flea protection. Talk to your veterinarian about suspected allergies.

Food allergies are also very common. Typical indicators of allergies include watery eyes, hair loss, severe itching or swelling. Additional symptoms include irregular stool or diarrhea, vomiting, or if it’s a case of anaphylactic shock, pets will display an inability to breathe and the loss of bowel control. The most common ingredient that causes food allergies is corn, so grain free food is always recommended to keep food allergies at bay. Some pets may also be allergic to a specific type of protein such as beef, chicken or fish, so it would be important to monitor your pet’s reactions when ingesting food with the specific protein in order to pin point allergies and to help you feed the right kind of food.

The following are likely to cause allergic reactions in dogs who are sensitive to them:

·       Tree, grass and weed pollens

·       Mold spores

·       Dust and house dust mites

·       Dander

·       Feathers

·       Cigarette smoke

·       Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)

·       Prescription medications

·       Fleas and flea-control products (Only a few flea bites can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)

·       Perfumes

·       Cleaning products

·       Fabrics

·       Insecticidal shampoo

·       Rubber and plastic materials

It is important to keep in mind that a flea allergy may only require a few flea bites to trigger intense itchiness for 2 to 3 weeks. Many cats with allergies to plastic materials will display missing hair around their mouths.

It is also a good idea to have Benadryl in pill form as part of your pet’s first aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about the correct dosage in case of an emergency for your pet, so you can be prepared.  If you are notice any symptoms mentioned above, contact your veterinarian immediately and discuss what could be the cause and the appropriate course of treatment. A healthy pet is a happy pet!