Allergies are not only something that affects humans but our pets as well. Dogs and cats won’t always show the same symptoms we might show, instead their primary reaction is itchy skin. Chewing at paws and scratching at ears can be signs of allergies, most commonly inhaled types (pollens, dust, mold…) known as atopy. Ear infections are a common occurrence with allergies as the skin inflammation seems to trigger the natural yeast and bacteria already in the ear to multiply. Atopy is usually treated with antihistamines. There are a few different options as to what type of antihistamine to use, and similar to us what works for one dog may not work for another. Your veterinarian may have to try several before finding one that is effective. Runny eyes and noses, sneezing or coughing can also be signs of allergies though not as common as skin issues.
Scratching at their hind end is most commonly flea allergies. A flea allergic pet can become terribly itchy with only a single flea bite. It’s very common to have an itchy pet due to fleas and never see a flea on them since just one bite can cause a whole body reaction. Flea allergies are the most common dermatological issues seen in the veterinary field and can lead to other skin problems such as hot spots and bacterial infections. Year round flea prevention, even for indoor pets, is highly recommended here in southern California. It never really gets hot enough or cold enough to kill fleas here.
Food allergies are a much rarer occurrence in our pets. Only about 10% of all allergic dogs are actually food allergic and of that small majority it is most likely an allergy to a specific protein source. Common food allergies can be Beef, Chicken and Corn. While the current trends of “grain free” and “hypoallergenic” foods are seen in pet stores, the likelihood of your pet actually having an allergy to food is small and very small to grains specifically. If it is the case we would recommend a completely hypoallergenic food trial which can take a minimum of 8 weeks. If your pet’s allergies improve you can gradually challenge them with protein sources to help determine exactly what they are allergic to. We are happy to help provide our food allergic patients with both daily diets and healthy treats! Remember when it comes to allergies and diets please consult your veterinarian, not the pet store people trying to sell you food.
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