Are you kept awake at night by your best furry friend jangling their collar with intense scratching? Maybe you notice your pooch chewing on their feet more often than not. If so, your pet could be suffering from allergies.

Luckily, the team at Redwood Veterinary Hospital is well-versed in identifying and managing pet allergies. With summer upon us, we thought now is the perfect time to review a few tips to help relieve pet allergies in your cat or dog.

What Causes Pet Allergies?

In animals, there are three main causes of allergies. All can present with itchy skin and a host of other problems, so it’s important to accurately identify exactly which allergen(s) are affecting your pet.

  • Fleas – No pet likes fleas, but those with flea allergies are especially sensitive. They have developed an allergy to a protein in flea saliva. Even one flea bite is enough to cause itching for days, possibly followed by hair loss, hot spots, and secondary bacterial infections.
  • Food – Pets aren’t born with food allergies, but they can develop over time. Food trials are the only way to truly determine if your pet is allergic to certain food ingredients. These trials should be carefully monitored by a veterinarian so your pet receives the right nutrients while eliminating certain ingredients from their diet.
  • Seasonal/environmental – Pollen from blooming trees and grasses can cause an increase in allergy symptoms. Other environmental allergens include dust and mold. These are primarily contact allergies, meaning the dust or pollen gets onto your pet’s coat and skin, causing irritation and itching.

Signs of Pet Allergies

Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of pet allergies:

  • Intense itching
  • Biting or chewing at the ears, paws, face, underside, or on top of the tail
  • Excessive licking
  • Rubbing their face or body against carpet or furniture
  • Patches of hair loss
  • Open sores/hot spots
  • Red or blotchy skin
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching around the ears

Managing Pet Allergies

Identifying what your pet is allergic to is no picnic. It takes time, patience, and trust in your veterinarian to determine which factors are contributing to your pet’s misery.

Although allergies can’t be cured, they can be managed. If your pet’s symptoms are mild, try the following techniques at home:

  • Make sure your pet is on a year-round flea preventive.
  • Wipe down your pet with a warm washcloth after being outside. Focus on the paws and belly.
  • Take off your own shoes while in the house.
  • Vacuum and clean your home frequently.
  • Use a HEPA filter.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Bathe your pet using a shampoo recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Administer an over-the-counter antihistamine as recommended by your veterinarian.

If your pet’s allergies are severe, please schedule an appointment with us to have them evaluated. We can use allergy testing, food trials, and other diagnostics to help us get to the root of the problem. In recent years, safer medications have been developed that may help reduce itch in your pet and any secondary infections your pet may have can also be treated. Some pets may also benefit from desensitization.

Please let us know if you have additional questions or concerns about pet allergies.