Allergies are the bane of springtime for many allergy sufferers. Our furry companions can also be affected by various allergens that impact their health and quality of life. Several allergens can trigger physical responses in pets, including pollen, mold, fleas, and food. Our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team describes common allergies in pets and explains effective strategies for addressing these conditions.

Pet allergies 101

Cats and dogs have complex immune systems that keep them free from disease. However, allergens can overstimulate the immune system, causing an allergic reaction. Through immune system response, the body overproduces white blood cells and antibodies to eliminate the invading pathogens. 

Pets can develop allergies to various substances, including food ingredients, environmental substances, such as pollen or dust, and flea bites. These allergies can manifest in multiple medical maladies, making them challenging to isolate or pinpoint.

Allergy signs in pets

Pets’ common allergy signs include:

  • Skin irritation — If your pet is itching, scratching, licking, and chewing excessively on their skin or paws, they are likely having an allergic reaction. Take a look at your pet’s skin, focusing on the sites that itch them most, and look for redness, rashes, or hot spots—raised skin lesions. 
  • Respiratory issues — Allergies can also affect your pet’s respiratory system, leading to physical signs such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or nasal discharge. 
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) problems — Pets with food allergies may experience diarrhea, vomiting, or other digestive issues. 
  • Ear infections — Persistent ear infections, accompanied by redness, odor, or discharge, may signal allergic reactions in pets.

Common pet allergies

The world is rife with substances that can trigger a pet’s allergic reaction. However, some allergies are more commonly diagnosed than others, including:

  • Flea and parasite allergies — Fleas, ticks, dust mites, and other parasites can cause allergies in pets, although flea saliva is the primary culprit in most cases. Parasites can be easily identified by investigating your pet’s fur and looking for flea dirt, which appears as tiny black spots on the coat and skin. Check under your pet’s armpits, ears, and skin folds to ensure they are parasite-free.  
  • Food allergies Specific ingredients in your pet’s food, such as proteins and grains, can cause allergies. Pets can develop food allergies at any life stage, and an elimination diet conducted by our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team can help identify the ingredients responsible for the allergic reactions. 
  • Contact allergies — Contact allergies cover a range of allergens in your furry pal’s environment, including fabric and rug dyes, household chemicals, fragrances, essential oils, certain plants, and shampoos and topical treatments. 
  • Environmental allergies — Also known as atopy, these allergies are caused by airborne particles. Plant and tree pollen, dust, fungi, mold, and other airborne substances can affect your pet seasonally or throughout the year. 

Diagnosing pet allergies

If you suspect your pet has allergies, consult our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. We may recommend various tests, including skin and blood tests, and elimination diets, to identify the specific allergen triggering your pet’s reactions. This process can pinpoint the exact allergen responsible for your pet’s health condition. 

Treating and managing allergies in pets

Once our team has diagnosed your pet’s allergies, treatment can begin. We may recommend one or more of the following treatments to alleviate or minimize your pet’s allergy signs:

  • Trigger avoidance — Minimizing your pet’s exposure to their allergens can help curb their physical reactions. This may involve using hypoallergenic grooming products, wiping off your pet’s coat and paws after being outdoors, keeping your home vacuumed, laundering their beds regularly, and avoiding known allergens. 
  • Medications — Our team may prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids, anti-itch medications, or allergy shots to manage your pet’s allergies successfully. 
  • Dietary changes — If food allergies are suspected, switching to hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diets can help identify and eliminate problematic ingredients. 
  • Flea control Regular flea prevention is crucial to preventing allergies and parasitic illnesses. Our team will formulate the correct parasite prevention protocol to safeguard your four-legged friend from fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other illness-carrying parasites. 

Recognizing and addressing allergies in your pet is critical for their health and quality of life. Consult with our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital for personalized guidance and treatment options tailored to your pet’s needs.