What You Need to Know about Allergies in Cats and Dogs
An allergy occurs when our immune system reacts to foreign substances called allergens. When the body tries to get rid of these substances, it triggers a variety of symptoms, such as itching, rashes, watery eyes, or upset stomach. We all know that allergens affect humans, but did you know that your pet can develop allergies? The symptoms can be very concerning for pet owners, resulting in many cherished felines and canines being rushed to see the vet at an emergency animal hospital in Jacksonville. The good news is, once the allergies are diagnosed, there are treatments available that can make your pet much more comfortable.
Cat Allergies FAQ
- What types of allergies do cats develop?
Felines can become sensitive to a variety of substances in and around your home, including their food. Veterinarians look for three types of allergies:
- Flea allergies are the most common type of cat allergy. This type of allergy leads to flea allergy dermatitis, a condition caused by fleabites and the saliva left behind. Not only does the condition make your cat's skin itchy, but it can also lead to secondary skin issues and infections. You may not see any fleas, but that's because cats constantly groom themselves, which removes any signs usually left behind.
- Food allergies can affect a cat's stomach and skin. Most of these types of allergies start when a cat is between two and six years of age. When felines develop a food allergy, it is usually due to a protein ingredient in their food, such as chicken or fish, which they're exposed to every day. Research shows that grains seldom cause pet allergies, but other ingredients that exist in pet foods, such as dairy and eggs, can.
- Environmental feline allergies are usually triggered seasonally by inhaling mold, dust mites, and pollen in the air, usually in the spring and summer months. However, central heating can stir up these allergens in the home during the winter months as well. The vet may refer to this type of allergy as "atopy," which affects purebred cats more often than domestic shorthair cats. Some cats develop allergies to products they come into contact with inside and around the home. Cleaners, perfumes, fabrics, and even plants can cause reactions. These types of allergies usually start before your cat turns five years of age.
- What symptoms indicate cat allergies?
When exhibiting flea allergy symptoms, you'll notice that your cat seems to be scratching themselves constantly, sometimes fiercely. The scratching may become so intense that it leads to open sores on the skin. You may also see your cat chewing on their tail, hind legs, or rear end. Flea allergies cause feline miliary dermatitis, crusted lesions on the skin.
When a cat has a food allergy, they may develop itchy skin and ears, which sometimes causes skin infections due to intense scratching. Some cats experience gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and vomiting. Others experience both skin issues and stomach problems together. If your cat is vomiting or has diarrhea, a visit to an animal hospital is important so that the issue can be further evaluated.
Environmental allergies lead to excessive scratching that produces sores and inflammation of the skin. The nasal passages may be inflamed as well, and some cats develop asthma.
Dog Allergies FAQ
- What type of allergies can my dog develop?
Like cats, dogs can develop three different types of allergies: flea allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies. All three can lead to skin conditions called allergic dermatitis. If this occurs, there's a danger of secondary infections of the skin—yeast or bacterial—due to the dog licking, biting, and scratching at the skin.
- Flea allergies are usually blamed on a dog's allergic reaction to flea saliva. The skin becomes very itchy, mostly at the base of the tail. With dogs, you will likely notice the presence of fleas due to tiny, dark specks, called flea dirt deposits, on the skin.
- Food allergies aren't as common in dogs as environmental or flea allergies, and they're hard to diagnose. And, there are no diets that are completely hypoallergenic. Dogs can become allergic to any protein or carbohydrate found in pet food, but in most cases, it's due to chicken, beef, dairy, or egg ingredients. Occasionally, a dog may develop sensitivity to a specific grain in their food, but this is rare. Labrador retrievers are most likely to develop food allergies.
- Environmental allergies in dogs—in addition to dust mites, pollen, and mold spores—may include allergic reactions to grass, feathers, or sheep wool. Some research indicates that these allergies could be inherited. They are more common in canines than felines and usually appear between the ages of one and three years. Terriers, retrievers, setters, bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and collies are some of the breeds more susceptible to environmental allergies.
- What symptoms should I look for?
A dog develops itching and excessive scratching as primary symptoms of most allergies. There are other symptoms, however, depending on the type of allergy.
Allergies to flea bites cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), also called flea bite hypersensitivity. Signs of the condition include lesions on the lower back, tail, and inner and outer thighs. Some dogs develop these lesions on their ears and neck. They continually scratch, lick, rub, or chew the skin in the affected area, which often results in hair loss.
Symptoms of food allergies in dogs are like those suffered by cats with food allergies. Ear or skin infections affect some dogs, while others experience vomiting and diarrhea. Some canines experience a combination of both skin and gastric issues.
Symptoms of environmental allergies other than itching may include respiratory issues, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or an eye or nose discharge. Evaluation at an emergency pet hospital in Jacksonville can identify the cause of the allergen.
- Can my pets be allergic to each other?
In rare cases, dogs can be allergic to cat dander. And, both cats and dogs can develop allergies to people dander as well, which is flakes of skin and oil. The veterinarian can test your pet for specific allergens. And, there are allergy shots or oral drops that your vet can give your feline or canine companion to minimize symptoms.
- What do I do if my pet develops allergy symptoms?
Allergies in pets are becoming more common, according to veterinary research. Never ignore a pet that itches constantly. Many allergy symptoms can be confused with those of other disorders. It's crucial to take your pet to an animal hospital so that a vet can determine whether the issues are caused by an allergy or another condition, but it may take some time to diagnose the culprit.
If you're seeking an animal hospital near Jacksonville or in the surrounding area, visit our website to see tips and a list of our available services at https://forevervets.com/services/. At Forever Vets Animal Hospital, we offer a free pet exam for new clients. We are dedicated to animal health and the well-being of our pet families. Plus, we support animal nonprofits and rescue groups in our community. Schedule a preventative appointment today, or if your pet is in urgent need due to an injury or illness, call us 7 days a week for services through our emergency animal hospital in Jacksonville.
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