Vet Blog

How to Tell if Your Pet Has Allergies and What to Do

May 31, 2019

Just like us, our pets can be allergic to a wide variety of different things.

For this reason, vets tend to categorize them into different groups based upon what causes them. As you might expect, the symptoms that a pet experiences for each type of allergy and the best way to approach treatment can vary considerably. So, how do you know if your pet has an allergy and how do you know what type it is? More important still, what can be done to help your pet so that she doesn't suffer unnecessarily? Read on to find about the different varieties of allergy and what they mean for your pet.

Environmental Allergies

By far the most common type of allergy seen in pets, these are caused by specific things in the environment around your pet. For example, tree, grass, and flower pollen, which are all prevalent in the spring and summer. For this reason, some environmental allergies are referred to as season allergies.

Bite Allergies

Have you ever been bitten by a bug and come up in an itchy, swollen lump afterward? The same reaction can happen to our pets. Bite allergies in pets usually occur in response to a bite from a parasite such as a tick, mite, or flea. Fleas, in particular, are well known for causing allergic reactions as they have a protein in their saliva that is a common allergen. This allergy is known as flea allergy dermatitis since pets that suffer from it tend to experience a skin rash as part of their symptoms.

Food Allergies

Animals can develop sensitivities to certain foods too. In fact, around 15% of allergies in pets are a result of food intolerances. Some of the most common items that animals can become hypersensitive to include soy, wheat, dairy, and certain meats.

Contact Allergies

Also known as contact dermatitis, contact allergies arise when your pet's skin comes into contact, directly or indirectly, with an allergen. There are countless things that could potentially cause a contact allergy to develop with some of the most common including cleaning products, certain shampoos, chemicals such as in pesticides or antifreeze, and even some plants and flowers.

Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

It is not always easy to tell that a pet is suffering from a health problem as animals are naturally inclined to try and mask anything that might make them appear vulnerable - including illness. While the symptoms of allergies in pets can vary slightly depending on exactly which type of allergy your pet is experiencing, many of them overlap into a number of 'core' indicators that your pet might be having some sort of allergic reaction. These include:

Skin Problems

Many allergies manifest as an unusual development on the skin. This can include skin that is swollen, red, scabbed, blistered, lumpy, painful, scratched or is hot to the touch. There may be an obvious rash, or if the skin has been scratched persistently it may be bleeding or oozing pus - a sure sign of infection. If your pet is allergic to a parasite such as fleas, they may be evident on her skin or in her coat.

Respiratory Problems

Symptoms relating to breathing are less common in pets than humans but can still indicate an allergic reaction. Things to look out for include persistent coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. If you have any reason to suspect that your pet can't breathe properly, seek emergency veterinary assistance.

Behavior Changes

Having an allergy can be frustrating and miserable for your pet. As a result, you may notice her behavior changing. Excessive scratching and licking are to be expected, as is persistent grooming. However, you may find that your pet is less interested in playing and exercise than usual or she may be off her food. Any unusual behaviors could indicate that there is an underlying issue - and this could be an allergy, particularly if the behavior is accompanied by any other symptoms.

What You Can Do to Help Your Pet with Allergies

If you suspect your pet may have an allergy, the first thing to do is to get her properly assessed by your Bastrop veterinarian. This should enable them to identify what general type of allergy your pet has, although it may be necessary to narrow this down to the specific allergen so that she can obtain the right treatment.

Your vet will be able to recommend a series of treatments and therapies that will minimize the effect that these allergies have on your pet so that she can remain as comfortable as possible. In most cases, owners find that they have to employ a number of different strategies to alleviate their pet's symptoms, including:

Reducing contact with the identified allergen

  • The use of medications such as antihistamines, steroids, and potentially pain relief
  • Topical treatments including shampoos, lotions, and gels to reduce the effects of the allergen
  • Increased grooming and bathing

Allergies may not be curable, but by identifying what is causing them and taking positive steps to limit contact, it is possible for your pet to live a life that is as happy, healthy, and fulfilling as possible. To find out more about pet allergies, please contact Melton Veterinary Hospital in Bastrop, LA. Call today at (318) 283-0656!

Please Note: We are no longer using Vet's First Choice and encourage clients to now use Vetcove.