Cats and Dogs Can Have Allergies
pet scratches, bites or chews excessively, chances are it is suffering from an
allergy. The cause of the allergy, termed an allergen, could be virtually
anything in a pet's environment. In some instances, a highly allergic pet may
have several allergies simultaneously. Identifying the cause of the allergy
requires teamwork between the pet owner and the veterinarian. The same teamwork
is needed to control the allergy.
The most common allergy affecting dogs and cats is flea bite allergy. It occurs
when a dog or cat is exposed to flea saliva at the time of a flea bite.
Controlling fleas in a pet's environment is the obvious treatment for flea bite
allergy. To do this, both the pet and its environment should be treated. Flea
collars provide a small measure of relief. However, some pets are allergic to
the collars. Flea powders, sprays,
Allersearch Pet Plus pet shampoos and dips can help rid pets of fleas.
Always read and follow label directions.
Excessive use of any of these products
may be hazardous for an individual pet. A veterinarian often prescribes drugs
that kill fleas or break the parasite's life cycle.
Because fleas spend most of their life cycle off a dog or cat, outdoor areas
frequented by fleas should be treated with sprays or foggers. To help control
flea infestation within the house, thorough cleaning and vacuuming is needed. A
professional exterminator may be necessary to control heavy infestations.
In addition to fleas, dogs and cats may be allergic to other parasites. They can
become allergic to tick bites in much the same way as they become allergic to
flea bites. You may notice red or raw
hot spots on
your pets coat. We carry a product,
Petaseptic Pet Lotion, that helps to heal the hot spots.
Inhalant allergies result from breathing in substances such as pollen from
trees, ragweed and other plants, house dust and mold. There seems to be a
genetic predisposition to this allergy, but it can occur in any pet at any time
of the year.
Contact allergies are caused by a pet's physical contact with an offending
substance. Thin-coated or hairless areas are usually affected. Among the most
common allergens are soaps, insecticides, wool nylon carpets, paint, wood
preservatives, poison ivy, oak or grass. Some pets may be allergic to plastic
In the case of certain plants and/or geographic locations, inhalant or contact
allergies may be seasonal.
Identifying the offending substance is critical to controlling inhalant and
contact allergies. If this is accomplished, every effort should be made to
eliminate it from the pet's environment. A veterinarian can recommend
appropriate treatment for skin lesions and to help relieve itching.
Although some pets develop allergies to food, this is rare. A food allergy
results from an abnormal immune reaction to an ingredient found in a pet food.
Food allergies usually appear as skin problems or gastrointestinal upsets.
However, a variety of diseases have similar signs. Consequently other causes
should be excluded before a pet's diet is blamed or changed.
Most affected pets have been fed the same food over a period of months or years.
The allergy develops over time with exposure to the same ingredient, usually
proteins. Changing from one pet food to another is not the answer because many
of these diets contain similar ingredients.
No food source is completely non-allergenic. The only foods that can be
considered hypoallergenic are those a pet has never before eaten. To be
hypoallergenic, a diet must contain proteins that have been broken sufficiently
so that the immune system does not recognize them.
If a food allergy is suspected, a veterinarian will probably recommend a special
"elimination trial diet" in order to be certain that diet is the cause of the
allergy and to identify the ingredient to which a pet is allergic.
If a pet is on an "elimination trial diet" to isolate the offending in gredient,
the owner and all family members are faced with the challenge of keeping the pet
on its special diet. This means no rawhide chews, snacks, table scraps or
letting it eat another animal's food.
Once the ingredient to which a pet is allergic is identified, an appropriate
diet can be recommended. Again, the challenge is to keep a pet exclusively on
the prescribed diet with nothing else offered.
For any allergy, once a tentative diagnosis is made, treatment can be attempted.
The goal of the treatment is to control the symptoms by avoiding the cause of
the allergy. If avoidance is not possible, medications or a series of injections
may be beneficial.
A final thought
Identifying an allergen can be a complex process requiring time and patience.
The reward of successful treatment is providing a more comfortable life for the
For more information contact Cheryl at the
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store