Have you noticed your pet itching, scratching, chewing, or licking excessively? Does he sneeze frequently and shake his head or rub his face often? These may be signs that your pet has allergies. Just like us, your pet can be allergic to a variety of substances he breathes in, eats, or encounters within the environment.
Types of Allergies There are different types of allergies that your dog or cat can experience: flea, food, and environmental allergies.
Flea allergies are the most common allergy experienced in pets. This condition is a hypersensitivity to the proteins or antigens found in flea saliva. When a flea bites a cat or dog, a small amount of saliva is released and triggers a reaction from your pet’s immune system causing extreme itchiness and skin irritation throughout the body not only at the bite.
Food allergies are the result of an immune response and are different from a food sensitivity or intolerance, though some symptoms can be similar. Food allergies can result in a range of symptoms from facial swelling, itchiness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, anaphylaxis may occur. Food sensitivities and intolerance's are generally less severe and often limited to digestive problems. Beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, and soy are the most common food allergens for dogs while beef, dairy, and fish are more common in cats.
Environmental allergies are from allergens present in your pet’s environment and include dust, fungi, pollen, mold, plants, grass, mildew, perfumes, cleaning products, and smoke. Though seasonal allergies are environmental, some of the allergens may be present all year-round and result in constant irritation. Environmental allergies do not have to be from close contact as your pet can also inhale allergens.
Allergic contact dermatitis is another form of allergic reaction that is often caused by chemicals or products that encounter your pet’s skin. This can include detergents, soaps, natural and synthetic fibers, paint, cleaning products, and insecticides. Excessive itching, redness, and irritation are the most common symptoms on and around the site of contact.
Secondary symptoms may appear such as hair loss, sores, scabbing, and hot spots.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of allergies can vary depending on the cause and type of allergy. The following signs may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Constant licking or grooming
Red, inflamed skin
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be signs of another condition. Your pet may not present all of the symptoms listed above in his allergic reaction. A pet that develops anaphylactic shock from a food allergy will display different symptoms from a pet with a flea allergy.