Allergy information for the symptoms of food, skin, inhalant and flea allergies in cats and dogs.

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  1. What are Allergies?
  2. What Causes Allergies?
  3. Diagnosing Allergies
  4. Help for Allergies
  5. More Information on Allergies

What are Allergies?

Dog allergies and cat allergies are just as common as humans are. An allergy occurs when your pet’s immune system reacts to a particular irritant that it has been exposed to. You will notice that your pet is itching and scratching excessively and hair loss may occur on one particular spot of the body or there may be patches all over the body.

There are various types of skin allergies and these include:

  • Cat and dog food allergies are caused by certain food sources or ingredients such as commercial pet foods that may bring about an allergic reaction in pets.
  • Atopic allergies are caused by something that your pet inhales such as tree, grass and weed pollens, mold, mildew, smoke, dust or dander.
  • Contact allergies are caused when your pet comes into contact with a particular substance such as flea collars, fabrics, plastic, insecticides, pesticides or rubber)
  • Parasite allergies are caused by fleas, heartworm, bee sting anaphylaxis
The common symptoms and signs of a dog or cat allergy can include:
  • Scratching
  • Itching
  • Hair loss which may develop in patches all over the body or may be localized to one spot on the body
  • Redness, swelling and rashes on the skin
  • Excessive licking of paws
Symptoms of cat and dog food allergies
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent bowel movements throughout the day
  • Mucoid stools
  • Ear infection or inflammation
  • Dehydration
Symptoms of atopic allergies
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Lung inflammation
  • Swelling

What Causes Allergies?

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system tries to protect the body by sending out histamines to attack the substance. Allergies may be caused by something your pet ingests, has come into contact with or inhaled.

They are very frustrating and distressing for your pet as the only way that he knows to soothe himself is by scratching, biting or chewing the affected area. If left untreated, this excessive scratching can lead serious inflammation and infection, even spreading to other areas of the skin. Although allergies cannot be cured, they can be managed and controlled.

Diagnosing Allergies

The diagnosis of an allergy is based on the symptoms presented, thorough physical examination as a review of the pet’s medical history. To rule out the various types of allergies, your vet will want to know if your pet is on a flea control program. Certain tests such as skin reaction and intradermal allergy tests and blood tests may also be performed.

If a food allergy is suspected, the pet is put on an elimination diet which consists of protein and carbohydrates for ten weeks and then slowly add ingredients from the old diet to check if itchiness increases. During this period, treats, table scraps, rawhide toys as well as medications should not be given to the pet.

Help for Allergies

Treatment typically depends on the type of allergy that your pet has developed. Some pets may have to be treated for more than one allergy while for others, a simple change in diet or mineral supplement may be required.

Allergies may be treated with a wide variety of topical solutions such as hypoallergenic, hydrocortisone or oatmeal shampoos, anti-itch creams, lotions or cooling salves. Mineral supplements such as omega-3 fatty acid and biotin as well as antihistamines and corticosteroids can also provide symptomatic relief.

Corticosteroids should only be used as a last option as they have severe side effects such as increased thirst, panting, and frequent urinating and when used excessively can lead to diabetes or Cushing’s disease. our vet may also recommend an immunotherapy program that consists of a series of shots in cases where allergies are severe.

If you know what is causing your pet’s allergy, avoidance is very important. Home care maintenance such as bathing your pet in an oatmeal bath or Epsom salts, using a flea repellent for fleas and avoiding exposure to irritants until the allergic reaction subsides can make a significant difference.

More Information on Allergies

Tips to relieve allergies

There are a number of things that you can do to avoid creating allergic reactions in your pet and these include:

  • Feed your pet an all natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants
  • Avoid making sudden changes to your pet’s diet. Gradually introduce new foods and then monitor what effect they have on your pet
  • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps, sugary or salty foods
  • Use stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls instead of plastic – plastic may cause an allergic reaction
  • Always provide fresh, clean water to cleanse the body’s system and avoid dehydration
  • Avoid exposing your pet to irritants such as pollen, smoke, household detergents, fertilizer or pesticides
  • Keep your pet’s living clean by disinfecting regularly
  • Clean your home thoroughly by vacuuming carpets and dusting furniture to ease both you and your pet’s respiratory allergies
  • Detox your pet regularly to get rid of unwanted toxins
  • Visit your vet regularly for routine check ups
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