What is an Allergy?
Many cases of ear, skin, stomach, coat, and nail conditions seen in dogs and cats can be attributed to either food or environmental allergies.
Allergies can cause irritation to your pet's gastrointestinal system or inflammation on their skin, ears or other areas of their body. Symptoms may cause your pet pain or discomfort.
The vets at Houston County Animal Clinic can provide allergy testing and treatment options, working with you to determine the root cause of your pet's discomfort.
If you suspect your pet may have an allergy, we can conduct a full physical examination, test for numerous allergies and eliminate other potential causes. Together, we can find a solution.
Types of Allergies
There a few different types of allergies pets can experience that may trigger a reaction, including:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis
In some dogs, a flea's saliva will trigger an allergic reaction that can result in flea allergy dermatitis. This can lead to extremely itchy skin — especially at the base of the tail. You might find their skin becomes scabbed, red and inflamed. Other signs of fleas include flea dirt (feces), and you may sometimes see fleas themselves.
- Food Allergies
Did you know your pet's itchy skin could potentially be a symptom of food allergies or sensitivities? If you notice them scratching at their ears or paws, along with potential gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or a combination of both, get in touch with your vet.
It's imperative to understand the distinction between food allergies and food sensitivities (intolerances). Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities are a gradual reaction to a specific ingredient such as wheat, milk, beef or chicken.
Symptoms can range from itchiness and chronic infections in the foot or ear to diarrhea and vomiting. True food allergies trigger an immune response that can cause skin conditions such as hives and facial swelling.
- Environmental Allergens
Atopic dermatitis or atopic allergic reactions can stem from environmental allergens, including mold, pollen and dust. Seasonal allergies can also be a frustrating issue, as they may only affect your dog during certain seasons or times of the year.
Similar to food allergies, look to your dog’s paws and ears for clues that they may be suffering from environmental allergies. Also do a quick check of the muzzle, around the eyes, wrists, underarms, ankles and between toes.
Symptoms of Allergies in Pets
Depending on the underlying cause of your pet's allergy, symptoms may vary. These symptoms may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Hair loss
- Respiratory congestion
- Skin rash or hives
- Patchy, itchy or flaky skin
- Head shaking and/or scratching (one or both)