Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

Allergies in pets can occur at any point in a dog or cat’s life. Pets with a weaker immune system are more often affected by allergies. Allergies can be of several types, including food or inhalant allergies. The symptoms of these are similar, and range from itchiness to coughing and breathing difficulties.

Causes of Allergies

Allergies in pets are triggered by a foreign substance that activates the immune system. More sensitive pets will have allergic reactions, while healthy and strong animals will have no symptoms at all.

Allergies can be caused by airborne allergens such as dust, pollens or materials such as plastic or wool, chemicals, pesticides, food and drugs.

Types of Allergic Responses

The allergic responses can be of several types:

  • Dermal responses, in which the skin will display rashes or bumps
  • Respiratory reactions, causing panting
  • Digestive responses, such as diarrhea, vomiting or constipation
  • Systemic responses, such as swelling of the face or throat, and in severe cases, anaphylactic shock

Symptoms of Allergies

The symptoms of allergies can be light and may pass unnoticed. They can also be more severe.

  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Skin rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling of face, paws or limbs
  • Scaly skin
  • Bumps, sometimes filled with pus
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures (in case of anaphylactic shock)
  • Muscle tremor
  • Excessive salivation
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite

Hair loss can also be among the symptoms of allergies. The pet has itchy skin, which will lead to uncontrollable scratching, chewing and biting. The pet's actions will cause hair loss, skin infections or even bleeding wounds.

The pet can also lose fur if he's allergic to injections or drugs. Penicillin or sulfonamides often cause allergies in pets.

Diagnosing Pet Allergies

Allergies are difficult to detect, because the presence of the symptoms can also point to different diseases. After ruling out other medical conditions, allergies can be detected with blood or skin testing.

Food allergies are the most difficult to detect. Lengthy food trials are needed.

Contact allergies will also necessitate the elimination of possible allergens from the pet’s environment.

Treatment Options

Allergies in pets can be treated through several different methods. The treatment depends on the allergen that is causing the negative reactions in your pet.

The most effective treatment is avoidance. Avoid foods that cause allergies, chemicals, materials or sunlight. Some airborne allergens cannot be avoided.

Steroids and antihistamines are the most frequent treatment options that are effective for any type of allergies.

Immunotherapy is also effective in treating inhalant allergies. 7 or 8 pets out of 10 will respond well to allergy shots, which will diminish the allergy symptoms.

Food allergies require no treatment, but obviously, the ingredients that cause the allergies should be avoided.

Secondary infections will often occur, and these should be treated with antibiotics.

Pet allergies weaken the pet’s immune system and make him more susceptible to other diseases, so allergies need veterinary attention.