In North Carolina, we thoroughly experience each of the four seasons, with all of the temperatures and weather that come with them. For many, particularly in spring or fall, the change of season can bring upon its own set of challenges – allergies being a common complaint. For humans, this brings images of scratchy throats, runny noses, sneezing, coughing, or sinus issues. For our furry friends, seasonal allergies can be equally as common but do not always present with sneezing or runny noses. In fact, the most common symptoms of allergies are typically skin related in dogs and cats.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Allergies?
Does your pet ever rub their face on the carpet, scratch at their ears, or lick and chew their feet periodically? Do they get ear infections every spring without fail? Did you know that these can be signs that your pet is experiencing allergies? The most common symptoms seen in dogs and cats experiencing allergies may include the following:
- Red skin
- Hair loss
- Chewing feet
- Itchy ears
- Chronic ear infections
- Constant licking
Types of Allergies in Pets
There are four common types of skin allergies in dogs and cats. Topical allergies, environmental allergies, dietary allergies, and flea allergies. Some pets may experience allergies seasonally, while others may have issues year round. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pet, it is recommended to reach out to a veterinarian for advice or to schedule an appointment.
The most common allergies we see in North Carolina tend to be flea allergies or environmental allergies. Signs of flea allergies include hair loss from chewing – usually along the hindquarters and tail area. Flea allergic dogs are usually extremely itchy, and affected pups are biting and scratching these areas constantly. A common misconception about flea allergies is that a dog will be actively infested with fleas when showing these signs. In fact, a single flea bite can start the allergy process. If your pet is diagnosed with a flea allergy or exhibiting any of these clinical signs, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian the next best steps for preventing recurrence and environmental management. Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription flea and tick medication to help reduce your pet’s risk of re-exposure. Often, flea and tick products purchased over the counter or natural remedies are not sufficient to help reduce the flea population and can even be harmful to your pet. It is important to discuss any questions with your veterinarian to help your pet feel better.
Environmental allergies are common in North Carolina and typically arise seasonally. Some dogs may exhibit recurrent ear infections, lick and chew their feet, rub their face, or develop rashes or even infected skin. Allergens such as pollen, mold, grass can cause these issues. If your pet develops these clinical signs, it may benefit from allergy testing or anti-allergy medication to help keep them comfortable through the itchy seasons. Please contact your veterinarian if you notice your pet exhibiting any symptoms of allergies.
Dietary allergies are not as common as flea and environmental allergies, but still play an active role in itchiness with your pet. The most common food allergies are beef or chicken, with eggs and dairy falling closely behind. Very rarely, dogs can be allergic to wheat, but typically protein allergy sources are most common. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of dietary allergies, the most common symptoms seen are: vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness, increased gut sounds, among other symptoms. If you are suspicious your pet is exhibiting dietary allergies, we recommend consulting your veterinarian prior to changing their diet. Your veterinarian may recommend a variety of treatments, including a hypoallergenic diet, to help your pet. Grain-free or limited ingredient diets may be of benefit, but a recent FDA investigation is exploring a potential correlation between heart disease and these diets. It is important to discuss risks and benefits with your veterinarian to make an educated decision that is best for your pet.
Topical allergies, such as those to bug bites or reactions to certain medications, can occur. If you notice any hives, swellings, or rashes on your pet, we recommend consulting your veterinarian for advice.
Consult With Your Vet
Allergies in pets can be extremely common, especially in North Carolina, and can occur seasonally or even year-round for certain animals. If your pet shows any of the symptoms described above, or you are suspicious of an underlying allergy or health problem, we recommend consulting your veterinarian for advice or to schedule an appointment. If you have any questions for our veterinary staff or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to reach out to us at 704-847-8466 or email@example.com.