Depending on the season you might get a little stuffy or sneezy periodically. You might even have certain foods you simply cannot eat because you’ll break out in hives. Whether your allergy is to pollen, dander, peanuts, or shellfish, the basic concept is the same: your immune system overreacts to certain things in your environment, and this is what’s known as an allergy. What you’re allergic to is known as an allergen. The same is true for our four-legged family members. Cats and dogs are susceptible to allergies just like we are, from seasonal to food allergies. So what are the most common ones for America’s favorite mammals and what can we do to keep our pets comfortable? Read on to find out!
Among the most common allergens for dogs are pollens, mold spores, and certain food ingredients, such as soy. In fact, about 10% of all allergy cases among canines are food-related! As for cats, food allergies are the third most common among felines. Your pets may also be afflicted by seasonal allergies, although typically you won’t see respiratory symptoms like we tend to see in humans. Instead it will likely be dermatological issues that will tip you off. Incessant scratching and nibbling on itchy patches can clue you in to your pet’s discomfort. You might notice redness or inflammation too, for instance, in the paws. If your pet is allergic to a food or medication—or something otherwise ingested—you may still see these signs and others, such as scooting behavior, your pet frequently licking around their rear end, even diarrhea or vomiting.
All of this information about allergies might be making your head spin, but once you identify what’s bothering your beloved pet you’ll be able to remedy the issue! Firstly, if the allergen appears to be a part of their diet, you’ll want to put your pet on an elimination diet so that you can test item by item. Your veterinarian will likely recommend blood tests throughout the elimination and reintroduction of foods. It’s imperative that you consult and communicate with your vet from the moment you suspect an allergy so that they can help you identify the issue and get your pet back to their normal self. If your pet’s allergy doesn’t appear to be food related NOVA Pets still welcomes you to consult with our team, but before you do we recommend you take the following steps:
- If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, consider having them become indoor only
- When your animals do go outside, promptly wipe their paws when they return inside
- Give your pet (at least) monthly baths
- Regularly clean your house and even consider vacuuming a little extra
- Get an air purifier
All of the above should improve matters if indeed the allergy is seasonal. That said, the main goal in identifying allergens is to limit or eliminate exposure to the allergens and sometimes that’s not realistic. Medications such as antihistamines and even allergy shots could be appropriate for your pet’s allergy. And, if you have a sensitive canine who needs more indoor playtime, NOVA Pets is happy to provide Doggie Day Camp!
Finally, if you’ve acted on all of the above information under the guidance of your veterinarian and still notice your cat or dog is showing symptoms, schedule an appointment to bring your pet in immediately so that other possibilities can be explored. You can reach our office at (703) 378-9791.