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Cats and dogs are pretty creatures. Just like humans, they are also prone to develop allergic conditions. Many pet owners ask questions about the common allergies in dogs and cats and all related facts. Allergic conditions annoy the pets as well as put the owner into a deep concern.
In this blog, we will discuss the common allergies in dogs and cats and their solutions under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.
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What Causes Allergies In Dogs And Cats?
There are so many triggers that are present around your pet and cause allergic reactions in them. For example, environmental triggers include mold, pollen pesticides, household chemicals, grasses dust mites, flea and flea control products, etc.
*insect saliva*-flea saliva is also an important cause of allergy in dogs/cats.
The other important reason for pet allergies is the dander which they shed themselves. The dander is basically dead flakes of skin that a pet sheds, this is the biggest trigger of pet allergy.
Food allergy is also commonly seen in pets. For example, pets show allergic reactions to a particular or group of related food ingredients (lactose, wheat, soy, etc.
Contact allergy: This is important here to discuss the main reasons for contact allergy in dogs here. This kind of allergy is caused by the contact of a dog’s skin with an allergen ( exposure to the synthetic material present in the bedding or carpet, exposure to the commonly used pesticides, and the pyrethrins usually present in the flea collars). These above-given things are the most common and frequent causes of allergies in dogs and cats.
What Are Common Symptoms Of Allergies In Dogs And Cats?
There is a number of allergic conditions which have been reported in cats and dogs. Here, we are going to summarize some important allergies in cats and dogs.
This is a common type of allergic condition that can develop in dogs or cats of any breed at any age. This is basically a hypersensitivity reaction to a particular food or ingredient. The most common type of allergic foods is beef, dairy, wheat, and chicken for cats and dogs.
Signs and symptoms:
The dogs and cats with food allergies almost show similar signs and symptoms (Exceptions are always there). The following are the key signs and symptoms:
- Itchy skin
- Gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhea or vomiting, bloating)
- Ear infections (in some cases)
- You may observe your pet straining while defecating
- Excessive itching around the rectum could lead to scooting.
After diagnosing the problem, eliminate that particular diet or ingredients from your dog’s overall food. Try to get a problem diet plan from a registered veterinary nutritionist. Always consult a pet nutritionist before giving any new food to your beloved pet. In case of severe signs and symptoms, seek medical attention for your pet immediately.
This is another the most common type of allergy that occurs in both cats and dogs. These allergies usually occur in cats and dogs during the spring seasons. The main culprits behind seasonal allergies are pollens and environmental triggers.
Signs and symptoms:
The following are the most important signs and symptoms of seasonal allergy in dogs and cats:
- Excessive sneezing
- Itchy skin and watery eyes
- Development of rashes on the skin or maybe hives
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Coughing, wheezing, or breathing difficulties can also be observed
Try to keep your pet indoors and reduce the risks of allergy to your level best. You can also discuss this issue with your vet. He/she can prescribe your anti-allergic medications. Being a responsible owner, always inspect the armpits, face, and other regions of your dog’s body. If your suspect any mite/flea over there, take immediate action.
The most common cause of pet allergies is flea bites. Skin irritations, hot spots, hair loss, and scratching that lead to superficial skin wounds is often caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Protecting your pet against fleas is one of the most effective ways to prevent skin allergies and hot spots.
Skin Infections Due To Allergies
There are a number of allergies that predispose mild to severe skin infections in dogs and cats. Many parasites and allergens cause skin infections in dogs. Due to allergy, dogs and cats scratch their skins and tend to bite the affected area which ultimately leads to an increased incidence of opportunistic fungal and bacterial infection. Here, we are going to highlight some infectious conditions of the skin which are caused by several allergies.
- Allergic dermatitis (This is the inflammation of the outer layers of the skin of the cat and dog. This is triggered by various environmental and other allergens. This condition leads to excessive scratching of the skin that causes peeling of the outer layers. Treatment may include the use of corticosteroids and other anti-allergic medications which can help in easing the itchy sensations.
- Yeast infection: Yeast or normal microflora of your pet’s body can also cause allergic infections of the skin. The important symptoms of yeast-induced skin infection include ear licking, discolored skin, excessive itching, and irritation. The treatment regime includes the use of topical antifungal creams or oral medications/sprays to reduce the severity of yeast infections and related allergic symptoms.
*Other important skin infections due to allergies include folliculitis, hair loss issues, and a variety of bacterial infections.
Ear Itching And Infections
Ear itching and infections are usually secondary to underlying allergic conditions in dogs and cats. This has been scientifically documented that there is an association between allergies and ear infections. Ear infections often occur due to dust, mold, pollen food protein, or mites-induced allergic conditions in dogs and cats.
Signs and symptoms:
The key signs and symptoms of ear infections in dogs and cats have been given below:
- Excessive scratching the ears
- Redness can be observed at the inner flap
- Dog/cat will shake head more than the normal
- Bad odor coming out of the infected ear
- The infected pet will drag the side of the face along the furniture or carpet.(indication of ear itching).
The better treatment of allergy-induced ear infections includes the proper diagnosis of the ear infection and its correlation with the exact allergic condition. All along with that, your vet can recommend anti-itch medications along with advice to properly clean the ear. Ear cleaning is an important step in this regard.
Is My Dog Or Cat Atopic?
Atopic dermatitis is basically a skin disease of dogs and cats that occurs due to multiple factors. This condition has a genetic predisposition in dogs and may occur due to environmental allergens. However, there is a clear distinction between the atopic dermatitis of dogs and cats in the clinical signs and symptoms.
The following signs would help you to know that if your dog/cat is atopic or not.
Erythema- in simple words, this is Atopic dermatitis associated with redness or characteristic lesion that occurs on the skin.
Pruritis and inflammatory changes also occur in the skin which may lead to loss of hair.
Otitis externa (inflammation of the external part of the ear can also be seen in some dogs)
Papules, pustules, and blisters are also observable in the different regions of the body. They can burst and lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
On the other hand, cats can present all the above-given signs along with digestive and respiratory disturbance. For instance, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea are observable in cats with atopic dermatitis.
Now, we are going to describe the general treatment protocol for allergic conditions in dogs and cats.
- Use of veterinary recommended anti-allergy (ANTI-HISTAMINES) medications Loratadine, Benadryl etc. This is better to discuss it with your vet before using any medication in the dog or cat.
- Natural, home based remedies for the allergic complications, scratches, itching, redness include the use of apple vinegar, coconut oil, yogurt vitamin E and fish oil combination.
Note: Being a responsible owner, this is your duty to know that, whether your dog develops allergy in response to the above-given medications or home-based items. Don’t use any medication or home-based remedy, if it provokes allergic reactions in your pet.
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There are different kinds of allergies that occur in dogs and cats. The common clinical presentations of allergies include redness, itching, sneezing, trying to chew or biting the affected area, and scratching. However, there are several allergic conditions in which your pet develops digestive problems i-e food allergies or protein allergies.
Whatever, the type of allergy is, it is better to take help from the veterinarian and take the treatment according to his/her guidelines. Keep an eye on your pet’s diet and eliminate the allergic factors from the overall food of your pet.
Hill, P., 1999. Diagnosing cutaneous food allergies in dogs and cats‐some practical considerations. In Practice, 21(6), pp.287-294.
Verlinden, A., Hesta, M., Millet, S. and Janssens, G.P.J., 2006. Food allergy in dogs and cats: a review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 46(3), pp.259-273.
Voie, K.L., Campbell, K.L. and Lavergne, S.N., 2012. Drug hypersensitivity reactions targeting the skin in dogs and cats. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 26(4), pp.863-874.
Jensen-Jarolim, E., Einhorn, L., Herrmann, I., Thalhammer, J.G. and Panakova, L., 2015. Pollen allergies in humans and their dogs, cats and horses: differences and similarities. Clinical and translational allergy, 5(1), pp.1-9.
Guilford, W.G., 1994. Nutritional management of gastrointestinal tract diseases of dogs and cats. The Journal of nutrition, 124(suppl_12), pp.2663S-2669S.