Allergies! What can we do for our pets?

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If you’ve ever experienced allergies, you know that they are no fun.  Just like people, dogs and cats can develop allergic reactions to certain substances too. When a pet’s immune system starts to recognize an allergen as being dangerous they begin to exhibit symptoms that make them uncomfortable.  Substances that may become problematic are either found in food or in the environment.  Allergens are typically either seasonal or chronic due to constant exposure to something in your pet’s environment. In pets, allergies most commonly manifest themselves as skin irritation and inflammation, which is known as “allergic dermatitis.”


Common symptoms of allergies:

-Itchy, red skin

-Scratching excessively

-Biting and/or chewing at areas of the body

-Rubbing body or face against objects, such as a carpet

-Areas of hair loss

-Open sores and scabbing

-Secondary infections, such as ear infections or hot spots in dogs


Allergies in pets, especially dogs, also display themselves as ear problems. Dog’s ear canals become itchy and inflamed as a general response to allergens. This usually results in secondary yeast or bacterial ear infections causing head shaking, scratching at ears, and a bad odor.

Although respiratory symptoms are not as common in pets like they are in people, they are possible. Symptoms can include nasal discharge, red/watery eyes, coughing, and sneezing.

Common environmental allergens: (Most pets have a combination of indoor and outdoor allergies)



-trees, grass, and weed pollens

-mold spores

-dust mites



Common food allergens:

-beef, chicken, or pork

-corn, wheat, or soy

Treatments for allergies in dogs and cats:

-A complete history and physical exam provided by a veterinarian

-Skin or blood tests may be required to determine source of allergen

-Food allergies are determine by completing a strict elimination diet trial; for a minimum of eight weeks

-Medical management such as antihistamines or prescription drugs such as Apoquel or Cytopoint


Preventative home care:

-Frequent bathing with a medicated shampoo

-Foot soaks to reduce tracking in outdoor allergens into your pet’s indoor environment

-Maintaining a clean environment by vacuuming and washing floors as well as bedding used by your pet

-Choosing appropriate diet

-Using appropriate flea and tick protection


If your dog or cat is suffering from allergies please contact your local veterinarian. There are options that offer temporary relief and/or may resolve allergies completely!

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