Pet Skin Allergies

Pet skin allergies, also known as Allergic Dermatitis, can have any number of culprits. When dogs or cats have an allergic reaction to something, it is their skin that will be affected. It is of major importance that a pet owner be aware of what causes allergies and what signs to look for.

Do Cats and Dogs Get Skin Allergies?

Both cats and dogs can get skin allergies. While skin allergies appear to be more common in dogs than in cats, it is not off limits to either one. The reason may be that most cats are kept indoors. While most dogs also live indoors, they use the outside facilities to relieve themselves. When dogs are outside, they are exposed to and become more susceptible to allergens in the environment. Although, there are some breeds, such as the Bulldog, that are known to be prone to skin allergies. Other breeds, such as the Boxer, Dalmatian and Retriever, are also known for developing skin allergies more often than other breeds.

What Causes Pet Skin Allergies?

When an allergen is introduced to your pet's system, the immune system begins creating antibodies to fight it off. When the immune system goes into overdrive in the production of antibodies, an allergic reaction occurs. An allergic reaction is simply an allergen that the immune system is not able to fight off.

There are numerous causes for pet allergies. Some of them include:

  • Food
  • Fleas
  • Parasites
  • Inhalants - such as grass, dander, pollen

While it is virtually impossible to know ahead of time what will cause an allergic reaction in your pet, the important thing to know is that there is always the possibility of an allergic reaction occurring.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

The most obvious sign of an allergic reaction may be swelling. Typically, when your pet is allergic to something, their skin will start to show the appearance of swelling or welting. Swelling is the immune systems natural response to a foreign invader. However, swelling of the skin can become dangerous if the eye area or the throat area of your pet becomes extremely swollen.

Another thing to look for in an allergic reaction is excessive biting, licking or chewing. If your pet is allergic to something like fleas, he may show a consistent amount of licking in the areas where he has been bitten. Because an animal's natural response is to get rid of whatever is causing them irritation, your pet will be biting and chewing at himself more than normal.

How Are Skin Allergies Diagnosed?

Most of the time, an allergic diagnosis is made from a combination of physical examination, medical history and input from the owner. Because there are numerous allergens and foods that can cause an allergic reaction, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. The only true way to make a confirmed diagnosis is to scrape a sampling of the skin and have it tested against various different allergens. Because there are so many different allergens, the best diagnosis will come from the input of the owner. If your pet has recently began exposed to something, such an as ant hill or a change in diet, those may be very good clues for what has caused the allergic reaction to occur in your pet.