Pet Allergies

Dog with Allergies

Triggers and How to Manage Symptoms

Itching, sneezing, runny eyes. These are all common allergy symptoms that present in pets. While most people are familiar with pet allergies in humans, many are not aware that our furry friends can suffer from many of the same allergens. As pets can’t communicate their distress, it’s not always easy to diagnose allergies and identify possible triggers. Fortunately, your vet can usually recognize the signs of a pet allergy and sometimes even the root of the problem. In the meantime, here’s what you should know about pet allergies, their triggers, and how to properly manage symptoms.

Dogs at Risk for Pet Allergies

Like humans, some pets are more prone to allergies than others. In some cases, poor breeding is to blame which causes pets to have a genetic predisposition to allergies. Other types of allergies are caused by environmental factors, such as mold spores or cigarette smoke. While any pet can be born with allergies, some dog breeds that have been found more susceptible to developing pet allergies include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Bull Terrier
  • English Bulldog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Shih Tzu
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Poodle
  • Irish Settler
  • Pug
  • Dalmatian
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pekingese
  • Bohemian Terrier
  • English Cocker Spaniel

Common Pet Allergy Triggers

If your pet is showing signs of allergies, you will want to try and determine the cause in order to properly manage the symptoms. Atopy is the most common type of allergy in cats and dogs, but is generally seasonal. For example, if a dog is allergic to ragweed, he may only experience symptoms in the fall. Pets who are allergic to dust mites may develop more severe symptoms in the winter when they spend longer hours indoors. Here’s a look at some of the most common allergy triggers found in pets.

Food Allergies: Food allergies can occur at any age and are commonly associated with protein sources. The most common food allergies in pets include beef, chicken, rabbit, pork, egg, fish, lamb, soy, dairy, and wheat.

Environmental Allergies: A pet’s environment can cause allergic reactions. Common environmental allergens include fleas, molds, and pollens from flowers, weeds, trees, and grasses.

Cleaning Products: Many cleaning products emit toxic fumes that can be irritating to your pets. Consider replacing chemical-based cleaners with cleaners containing natural or non-toxic agents.

Dust and Dust Bites: Household dust and dust mites can cause itching, rashes, and recurrent ear infections. Kittens with dust mite allergies can develop eosinophilic granuloma complex, resulting in skin lesions, itching, recurrent ear infections, and a foot pad disease known as “pillow foot”.

Fabrics and Materials: Certain fabrics and materials can cause allergies in pets, especially when a pet’s bedding is made from the irritating textile.

Personal Products: Some personal care products can be harsh on your pet’s immune system. Perfumes, scented lotions, and certain pet shampoos can trigger an allergy.

Managing Allergy Symptoms

Depending on the cause of your pet’s allergies, your vet may suggest a variety of treatments or lifestyle changes. The best cure for an allergy is to avoid the allergen completely. While this is not always possible, certain allergies can be avoided, such as food allergies and allergies related to prescription drugs, cleaning products, and cigarette smoke. For allergies that can’t always be avoided, here are some effective ways to manage symptoms.

Natural Remedies: If you prefer to try a natural remedy first, there are several options. Omega 3 fatty acids can be beneficial as they help to regulate the immune system. Yucca, a natural anti-inflammatory, can also help the immune system function normally.

Medicated Shampoos: Sooth your pet’s skin allergies with a medicated shampoo. There are many antibiotic, antifungal pet shampoos on the market that treat everything from allergies and hot spots to dermatitis and dandruff.

Corticosteroids: Your vet may prescribe corticosteroids for pets suffering from atopy. However, long-term use is generally not recommended.

Antihistamines: In some situations, antihistamines can be effective in treating itching when the cause is related to histamine. This medication is often combined with steroids.

Allergy Vaccines: Pets that suffer from allergies may benefit from allergy vaccinations, which can reduce symptoms over time.

Allergies in pets can develop at any age, and typically become problematic when ingested, inhaled, or after direct contact with the animal’s skin. If you notice your pet scratching or licking certain areas, such as the face, ears, or toes, it may be a sign that an allergy has developed. If you believe your pet has allergies, pay close attention to the animal’s diet and environment. Consult with a veterinarian to discuss your concerns and treatment options.


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