How To Manage Allergies In Pets - Medicine, Home Care, & More!
As a pet parent, there is nothing we want more for our little one’s than comfort and happiness. Chronic allergies can threaten the comfort we envision for our pets, as allergies can deeply impact their quality of life when they are not well managed. If your little one does suffer from allergies of any kind, proper management is essential for their health and happiness moving forward.
Vetted wants to offer you the tools needed to combat your pet’s itchy allergies, so let’s discuss all the components of allergy management in pets below. Ranging from medical care to at home care, let’s break it all down!
Before we get started, we suggest downloading the Vetted app so you can gain access to our 24/7 pet parent guidance center. The chat is run by skilled Vet Pros that are ready to answer questions about your pet’s care at any time, and this includes all your questions about allergies in pets!
Does My Pet Have Allergies?
Before we dive into the details of allergy management in dogs and cats, we should first break down some of the common signs of pet allergies to be on the lookout for. If you notice your little one struggling with any of these symptoms, then it may be time to have them assessed by your veterinarian.
Some of the most common allergy symptoms in pets include:
- Frequent itching and scratching
- Biting or chewing at their skin
- Chewing or licking the paws
- Skin redness
- Excessive shedding or patches of fur loss
- Chronic ear infections
- Skin odor
- Sores on the skin
- Watery eyes
- Anal gland complications
- GI upset like diarrhea and vomiting
- Restlessness or agitation
If your little one has developed the symptoms above, then they may be struggling with irritating allergies. We always suggest having them assessed by your vet, as they can determine the best plan of action moving forward, and they can rule out other potential causes of these symptoms.
What Causes Allergies In Pets?
Now that you are aware of the most common signs of allergies in our little ones, let’s break down some of the causes of itchy allergies in dogs and cats!
- Environmental Allergies: Environmental allergies, also known as atopic dermatitis, are caused by allergens in the world around your pet. This can include allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, and more. These allergens can cause your dog to develop an itchy rash, hot spots, ear infections, anal gland complications, and excessive fur loss. Environmental allergies can occur at any time, but they are most common in the spring and summer months.
- Food Allergies: Food allergies occur when a dog is allergic to one of the ingredients in their food, often a type of protein. Though dogs can be allergic to any food item, the most common food allergies in dogs are to beef and chicken. Food allergies in dogs can lead to itchy skin, skin redness, ear infections, skin infections, and GI upset.
- Flea Allergies: Flea allergies occur when a dog has a hypersensitivity to flea saliva, causing an itchy reaction when they are bitten by a flea. This type of allergy can cause skin irritation anywhere on the body, but it is most often seen around the base of the tail and on the back legs.
- Contact Allergies: Contact allergies are caused by direct contact with an allergen. This can include cleaning products, fabrics, plants, grooming products, and more. The symptoms of contact allergies can include itching, redness, and swelling at the site of contact.
- Inhalant Allergies: Inhalant allergies, also known as respiratory allergies, are caused by breathing in allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold. The most common symptoms of inhalant allergies in pets can include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and itchy skin.
Now that you better understand the details of your pet’s allergy, let’s discuss some of the most effective management methods!
How To Manage Allergies In Pets
A management plan for allergies in pets will vary based on what your pet is allergic to, how severe their allergy is, and how easy it is to limit their exposure to the allergen. Your vet is the only one that can determine the best allergy treatment plan for your pet, but let’s break down the list of potential management methods on the table.
Identify The Allergen
The first step in managing pet allergies is to identify the allergen. This can be done by either assessing your pet’s symptoms and the time of year in which they are present, or relying on diagnostics if their allergies are more challenging to pinpoint.
This can be done through a variety of tests, including skin testing and blood testing with a dermatologist. Once the allergen has been identified, steps can be taken to reduce your pet's exposure to it, or your vet can offer medication that limits their symptoms.
Protect Them From Fleas and Ticks
No matter where you are throughout the country, there will be fleas and ticks present in the spring and summer months. Protecting your pet from itchy fleas will help them avoid significant skin irritation to come, as well as dangerous illnesses these insects carry. Even if fleas are not the source of your pet’s allergy, an itchy flea bite will only make their skin irritation worse.
If you are able to determine what your pet is likely allergic to, then you can take steps to limit their exposure to the allergen. For example, if your pet is allergic to pollen, you can limit their time outdoors during peak allergy season, brushing them daily to remove any pollen attached to their fur, use air filters throughout your home, and regularly clean their bedding and toys.
Another example is if your little one is allergic to dust, then you can take steps to decrease the amount of dust found in your home. This can include vacuuming regularly, using air filters, and washing their bedding regularly.
And last, if your vet thinks your dog is allergic to a food item, then you can work with your vet team to implement an elimination diet. Once your vet can identify the ingredient they are sensitive to, then you can be sure to keep this food item away from them moving forward.
Regular Grooming & Skin Care
Regular grooming can help to reduce allergens on your pet’s skin and coat. This can involve simply brushing your pet each day to remove any allergens on their fur, or bathing your pet once a month to soothe their irritated skin. Just be sure to only use a pet shampoo that is approved by your veterinarian, as you would not want to make their skin irritation worse with an irritating product.
In addition to brushing and bathing your pet, you can also utilize grooming products like ear cleansers and supplements for skin and coat health! Just reach out to our Vet Pros on the Vetted app, and we can offer you suggestions on veterinary approved products for allergy management in your little one.
If your pet is suffering from allergies that are difficult to manage with at home care, then it is likely time to explore the use of allergy medications with your vet. This can include everything from prescribed antihistamines to medications that tackle your pet’s itchy skin, all of which can be effective in managing their allergies long term.
For example, many vets utilize medications like Cytopoint and Apoquel to manage itchy skin in dogs with persistent allergies. Some allergies are too severe to manage without medication, so we always suggest trusting your vet’s guidance when it comes to your pet’s chronic allergies.
Allergies in pets can be tricky to manage, but you can do it with a trusted veterinary team on your side. In addition to seeking care with your veterinarian, you can also rely on our Vet Pros at Vetted for guidance on your pet’s ongoing care. Just download the free Vetted app for access to our 24/7 pet parent guidance center.