How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Allergies?

Symptoms of Dog or Cat Allergies

Just like the sinus trouble you anticipate each spring, or the itchy skin you can’t seem to shake in the summer, your pet may suffer from similar allergy symptoms.

Dogs and cats are often born with or develop allergies. As pet parents, it can be difficult to know if our furry friends are experiencing an allergic reaction and how to treat it.

What Types of Allergies can Pets Have?

Generally, pets suffer from either food allergies or seasonal allergies, and there are many different causes for both.

While your pet’s allergy may not be present all the time, it can develop into a year-round allergy—it’s important to keep track of how your pet is acting so you can intervene. Oftentimes, there are specific ways your pet will behave if they are uncomfortable or are having an allergic reaction, and the sooner you can identify the problem, the faster your best furry friend will start to feel better.

Why Do Pets Get Allergies?

Dogs and cats can develop an allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients or additives present in commercial pet foods. Certain proteins and carbohydrates can also cause allergies in pets.

Commonly used ingredients, like grains, corn, eggs, yeast, soy, potatoes and rice, are also known culprits of pet allergies and can spark a reaction in your dog or cat.

Additionally, pets can develop seasonal or year-round allergies to the same types of allergens that bother humans, such as pollens, molds, dust, fabrics, cleaning products and perfumes. Allergies are the result of an immune system overreaction, which can be caused by an intolerance or an overexposure.

The following are common symptoms in dogs and cats that indicate an allergic reaction:
• Increased scratching
• Itchy, runny eyes
• Itchy ears
• Snoring (due to inflamed throat)
• Diarrhea
• Sneezing
• Vomiting
• Chewing or linking paws
• Constant licking

Diagnosing and Treating a Pet Allergy

If you suspect your pet has allergies, visit your veterinarian and describe the symptoms. Skin tests and blood work can be very useful in determining the source of your pet’s allergy. If it’s suspected that your pet has a food allergy, you may want to consider a food trial, which consists of feeding your pet a novel protein and carbohydrate (something your pet has never eaten before) for at least 12 weeks. If the symptoms are relieved in that time, a food allergy is likely the culprit and a new food should be sought for your pet. If the symptoms are not relieved and a food allergy is strongly suspected, another food trial should be conducted.

You can work with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action to deal with your pet’s allergy, and oftentimes it is easily treated once the source is discovered. Your allergy-free pet will thank you for it!

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