Symptoms of Pet Allergies

dog lying down

For millions of Americans, allergies are a normal, if inconvenient, part of everyday life. However, you many people are surprised to learn that our pets are just as likely to suffer from intolerances as we are. Every year, countless numbers of owners make appointments with their veterinarian to discuss their pet who seems to be showing allergy symptoms.

The fact is, there are many different types of allergies that can affect our pets. Often, what begins as a seasonal allergy turns into a year-round problem. Fortunately, it is not necessary for your much-loved animal to suffer from the debilitating effects of allergies. There are a range of medications that can help alleviate the symptoms and enable your pet to enjoy life to the full.

Types of allergies that can affect pets

Much like humans, there are a variety of different things that can cause your pet to suffer from a range of allergy symptoms. Typically, these fall into the following categories.

Bite allergies

These are allergic reactions that occur when your pet is bitten by an insect or parasite. Flea bite reactions are one of the most common allergies affecting animals in the U.S. today. This is because the saliva of fleas contains toxins that cause the area to become extremely irritated and itchy. It is for this reason that pets with fleas are seen to scratch so profusely.

Other symptoms of a bite allergy can include redness and swelling at the site of the bite. If persistent scratching causes an infection, your pet may also suffer from scabbing, oozing or pus from the wound and a fever.

Contact allergies

Also known as contact dermatitis, these occur when your pet’s skin comes into contact with a substance or material that triggers her immune system. In many cases it is not known exactly why some animals (and people) experience reactions to some substances while others don’t.

In most instances, contact allergies cause symptoms that are related to the skin, including a rash, redness, raised areas of skin and blistering, as well as causing intense itching and/or soreness.

Environmental allergies

This is the most common type of allergy experienced by domestic animals. Also known as atopy, most environmental allergies are seasonal although they can develop into being a problem all year long. Nevertheless, many will peak during certain months – for example, house mite allergies tend to peak during the winter while tree pollen allergies trigger the biggest symptoms during the spring.

Symptoms of environmental allergies tend to vary depending the exact cause of the reaction. Nevertheless, they often include:

- Respiratory problems such as wheezing and seeming out of breath

- Ears that seem red, swollen or unusually waxy. A foul odor is often indicative of infection, while itchy ears may also suggest an allergy is present.

- Red, watery eyes.

- Hair loss on either the body or face. This is often a sign that your pet has been rubbing their body against something abrasive such as carpet or furniture to get relief from itching.

- Pads of the feet seeming swollen or red. Your pet may also persistently lick or chew them.

- Skin problems such as a rash, raised areas of skin, soreness, redness, scabs or signs of infection may all point to an environmental or other type of allergy.

Food allergies

Food allergies aren’t restricted to humans either, and as many as 15% of pet immune system reactions are attributed to an intolerance to certain products that animals eat or drink. In many instance, food allergies and environmental allergies run concurrently.

It is not always obvious that an animal has a food intolerance as many owners believe that this type of allergy will always trigger an upset stomach. However, there are other symptoms associated with food allergies including recurrent skin infections and ear problems, and persistent itching of the feet, face, trunk, limbs and anus.

If you suspect that your animal may have a food intolerance, your vet will almost certainly want to start her on an elimination. Although this can be a lengthy process, it is the only way to identify which foods or drinks are causing your pet to suffer from her symptoms.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction

In some rare cases your pet may experience a sudden, severe allergic reaction. If this happens, you may need to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Severe allergies usually present with symptoms including:

- Hives (urticaria). This is a red, raised rash which may spread across her body.

- Facial swelling. Also known as angioedema.

- Anaphylactic shock. This is where your pet’s airway will close, and she may find herself unable to breathe. This life-threatening situation requires emergency attention.

If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering with allergies, contact us and arrange an appointment with our veterinarian. The right medication and care from a trained professional can help alleviate her suffering and enable her to enjoy a long, happy and healthy life.