Whether it’s the changing of the seasons, mold, dust motes, or certain foods, you’re probably not unfamiliar with allergies and the effects they can have. Our pets can have allergies, too, but their symptoms might not manifest in ways you would expect. At Veterinary Clinic of Lubbock, we know how allergies can wreak havoc on pets and their families if left untreated. Our goal is to inform owners of the warning signs so they can seek treatment for their pets before the symptoms lead to other problems.
Common Allergy Symptoms in Pets
No two pets are alike, and depending on what is causing their allergies, their symptoms will not necessarily be the same, either. They can include:
- Excessive scratching due to severe itching
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Red, itchy, inflamed and/or scabbed skin
- Itching at base of tail
- Itchy paws; many pets will lick and chew at their feet
- Hair loss, often between the toes and other areas
- Red, inflamed, itchy ears
- Diarrhea, frequent bowel movements
Itching of the skin is also known as pruritis, and is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells in the body to combat allergens. Itching is a common allergy symptom in pets, and should be addressed as early as possible to prevent further scratching and licking, which can lead to infection.
Types of Pet Allergies
There are three types of allergies we generally see in pets. These include contact allergies, food allergies, and atopy, which can be seasonal. Contact allergies usually occur in brief episodes, while food allergies are usually year-round, and result in itchy ears and backsides, vomiting, stomach growling, and more frequent bowel movements. Atopy involves licking and chewing at the feet and lots of scratching.
To diagnose a food allergy, we need to conduct a food trial and switch your pet to a different diet. They must remain strictly on this new diet for up to three months, and any health or behavioral changes will be noted. At the end of the trial, your pet will return to their original diet, and if their symptoms return, we may be able to isolate the direct cause. With contact allergies, the ideal solution is to reduce your pet’s exposure to irritating allergens. Atopy can be treated in a number of ways, including:
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Oatmeal baths
- Apoquel (immune system modulator)
- Allergy testing
- Regionally-specific immunotherapy
- Cytopoint injections
- Steroids (effective in treating itching, but can have many negative side-effects if used long-term)