Pets may suffer their entire lives with allergies that are never diagnosed or treated. In fact, allergy symptoms are one of the most common reasons people bring pets to a veterinarian. Household pets suffer from many of the same allergies that affect humans, though their symptoms are often different.
Symptoms of pet allergies
Of course, pets can’t tell us when they are suffering from allergies, so it’s important for owners of pets to recognize the general symptoms of allergies their pets may have. Those symptoms may include:
- Sneezing, coughing or wheezing
- Scratching, licking or chewing at skin
- Runny eyes
- Itchy back or tail (often a sign of flea allergies)
- Vomiting, itchy ears, snoring
Veterinarians can often determine the exact cause of a pet’s allergies with allergy tests. Many allergens such as mold, mildew or dust mite droppings affect pets differently than how they affect humans. For example, inhaled allergens typically cause runny eyes, runny nose or sneezing in humans, while in pets the same allergens usually cause itchy skin.
What causes allergies in pets
Dogs, cats and other household pets can develop allergy symptoms when their immune systems react to everyday substances known as allergens. There are three primary ways they come into contact with these allergens:
- Inhalation.Many of the same airborne allergens that affect humans also affect pets, including pollen, dust and mold.
- Digestion.Food allergies in pets often include reactions to soy, wheat, yeast, or other ingredients or preservatives in their food.
- Skin contact.Many pets react to saliva from fleas. Other contact allergens include grasses, household chemicals and pesticides.
Steps you can take
Preventive measures are the best strategy in controlling your pet’s allergies. By taking a few simple steps you can help protect your pet from unnecessary exposure to the allergens that trigger symptoms. Here are a few tips:
- Visit your veterinarian.Your vet will take a complete history, conduct an examination of your pet and help determine the cause of the allergies. Your vet can also prescribe medications, order blood tests and help determine food triggers.
- Take steps to protect your pet from fleas.Start a flea control program at home and check outdoor pets carefully, as they can bring fleas indoors and expose all of your pets.
- Remove airborne triggers.A high-performance air purifier such as the IQAir HealthPro Plus will remove inhalable particles of all sizes, and also smoke and chemicals in the air. This can make as big a difference in your pet’s health as it does in yours.
- Wash your pet regularly.Bathing your pet once or twice a week can relieve itching and remove some of the allergens from your pet’s skin. But remember that frequent bathing can also dry out your pet’s skin. Get a recommendation from your vet.
For more information on how to detect and help prevent your pet’s allergy symptoms, visit www.aspca.org.