Understanding Allergies in Pets
Like people, pets are susceptible to allergies. The most noticeable symptom of a pet allergy is constant itching and scratching. Scratching can lead to fur loss, open wounds, skin irritations, and infections. If you notice these signs in your pet, see your veterinarian. At Millhopper Veterinary Medical Center, your local Gainesville animal hospital, we'll examine your kit or pup to determine what’s causing the problem. Once the allergen has been discovered, your veterinarian can recommend medications to manage the symptoms. By understanding the basic facts about pet allergies, you can make wise decisions on how to help your feline or canine companion.
Types of Allergies
Pet allergies can generally be divided into three groups: atopy (seasonal) allergies, food allergies, and flea dermatitis.
Atopy allergies are those that come from the environment such as pollen, dust mites, mold, ragweed, etc. When these allergens are inhaled, they can cause allergic reactions like severe itching, ear infections, skin irritations and more. Atopy allergies are more noticeable during certain times of the year such as spring or fall. In winter, however, your pet may have severe reactions to dust mites as he spends more time indoors.
Food allergies occur when your pet’s immune system reacts to ingredients in food. These ingredients could be meat, dairy, chicken, wheat or other product. Food allergies can cause itching on your pet’s face, feet, legs, body and rump, and ears. Your dog may also experience more bowel movements than normal and/or softer stools due to a food allergy.
Flea dermatitis can be particularly aggravating for a dog or cat. Flea dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. The first symptom is intense itching which will prompt your pet to scratch, bite, lick and chew on the affected areas. Excessive scratching and biting can lead to hair loss, open wounds and skin infections. Your pet may scoot around on his rump due to itching in that area. If your dog or cat shows signs of an allergy, don’t hesitate to bring him to our animal hospital for a checkup.
Veterinary Help in Diagnosing Allergies
Allergies aren’t the only cause of itching. To determine if your pet has an allergy, your Gainesville veterinarian will give him a physical exam and perform blood and skin tests. These tests will eliminate potential causes, making it easier to identify the real cause of your pet’s symptoms. To test for a food allergy, your pup or kit may be put on a strict diet for 6 to 8 weeks. New foods will be introduced little by little to see what’s causing an allergic reaction.
For help in diagnosing and treating pet allergies, contact Millhopper Veterinary Medical Center at 352-373-8055 today.