We addressed the issue of people dealing with being allergic to pets, but did you know that pets can suffer from allergies as well? We recently had a customer that called in to report that that it is not uncommon for Bichon Frise dogs to be allergic to grass, and therefore she was encouraging us to carry our dog boots year round.
Signs of Allergies
- Biting and chewing foot pads, sometimes with accompanying discoloration
- Rubbing face and ears against surfaces to alleviate itching
- Bald spots from areas of licking, biting and/or scratching
- Watery eyes
- Inability to rest/agitation
Food: Allergies can be from something ingested, causing hives, rashes, and itching, especially around the face and anus. Food allergies usually manifest as skin problems whereas food intolerances will cause gastric distress such as diarrhea, flatulence, and vomiting.
Inhalants: Dogs don’t generally sneeze with respiratory irritation like humans do. Even inhaled allergens can cause skin reactions in dogs. These could be from dander (from you or another pet) pollen, or mold.
Insects: Flea bites can be awful to begin with, but for dogs that are also allergic to the proteins in flea saliva, it is a doubly bad dose of itch that can sometimes lead to secondary infections from the sores that come from the incessant scratching. Mosquitoes and bees can also cause reactions. Allergies to bee stings can be quite serious, causing anaphylactic reactions similar to those in people with swelling and difficulty breathing. This requires immediate vet attention!
Pet allergies can be diagnosed through your vet with skin tests, but many people opt to play detective to narrow down the causes. Try to recall if your dog or cat has started a new food or treat. Or did the reaction begin with a change in the season? These might help you figure out what the cause is and the offending agent can be removed or minimized.
If the allergen is food based, try different formulations that leave out corn, soy, or gluten. Don’t forget to check treat ingredients as well. Avoid table scraps, in particular, as human food may exacerbate sensitivities.
For inhaled irritants such as dander, mold, or pollen, try vacuuming with a HEPA grade vacuum coupled with the use of an air filter. Have your forced air vents cleaned and buy new filters for your furnace. Run your air conditioner to keep humidity levels low to prevent mold growth. These precautions may help any personal allergies you may have as well.
For insect allergies, try insect repellents made for dogs such as our Sentry Natural Defense Flea/Tick Treatment for dogs that also works against mosquitoes.
Your vet will have suggestions to help you with your pet’s allergies that may include antihistamines, short-term steroids, or even allergy shots. Some things to try at home might be cool baths with an oatmeal shampoo and conditioner to soothe hot spots, anti-itch creams, high-quality foods, and essential fatty-acid supplements such as fish oil.
Watching your pet be itching and irritated is almost as difficult for you as it is for them. We hope these suggestions help you and your pet to be more comfortable. We’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for others who are dealing with pet allergies!
Featured photo by Gareth Williams.