Image by Kate Stone Matheson

Allergies In Pets

Allergy, one of the most common diseases in Pets, and is now recognized as a growing animal health problem worldwide. An allergy is the immune system’s hypersensitive response to substances (allergens) that either enter or come into contact with your pet's body. This response of the immune system to the allergens usually produces symptoms and signs associated with the disease.

Allergies in Dogs, Cats and Horses

When it comes to allergies in pets, here are the most important questions that pet owners must keep in mind:

  • How to recognize the signs of allergies in pets?

  • How serious can my pet’s allergies get? 

  • How to get the right Veterinary Diagnosis? 

  • What are the treatments of these allergies?

Allergies in Dogs, Cats and Horses
Allergies in Dogs, Cats and Horses. Bulldog scratching

Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

The symptoms of allergies in pets may vary or overlap depending on the cause.

The following most common symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction:

 

 

Anaphylaxis, which is a severe and rapid allergic reaction may also take place and be fatal if not treated. However, these anaphylactic reactions are rare in dogs.

Types of Allergies in Pets

Environmental allergy

The most common environmental allergens include a seasonal tree, grass and weed pollen, as well as dust mites, mold, animal dander, animal saliva, feathers and cleaning solutions.  Exposure to these allergens can cause an atopic allergic reaction or atopic dermatitis.

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​Flea allergy or Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

The allergen is a flea saliva that contains a specific protein that has been injected during the flea bite and causes an intense allergic response to sensitive dogs. FAD is the most common cause of skin diseases in pets such as eczematous, an itchy skin disease in dogs.​

​Food allergy

The most common food allergens are beef, dairy, and wheat. Food allergies are more often associated with atopic dermatitis. However, a food allergy can also contribute to gastrointestinal signs, which may produce different levels of severity.

 

Thus, all types of allergies in pets and atopic dermatitis are highly associated. 

Allergic or atopic dermatitis, often known as skin allergies, refers to the inflammation and irritation of the skin.

 

Most common symptoms of skin allergies in dogs:  

Itching
Itching
Swollen Paw
Cat licking paw
Ear Infection
Cat with ceruminos otitis
Itching In Ears
Swollen Face and Eyes
Red, Inflamated skin

Dog Breeds at Higher Risk for Allergies

Up to 10% of all dogs suffer from allergies during their lifetime. Any dog breed can demonstrate different signs of allergies. Interestingly though, certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing allergies:​

  • Terriers (Boston, Maltese, Bull, American Hairless, Bohemian, American Pit Bull, Wire-Haired Fox)

  • Golden retrievers

  • Pugs

  • Bulldogs

  • Boxers

  • Dalmatians

  • Beagles

  • Irish setters

  • German shepherds

  • Pekingese

  • Bichon Frise

  • English Cocker Spaniel

  • Brussels Griffon

  • Shih Tzu

  • Lhasa Apso

  • Chinese Crested/Powderpuff

  • Poodle

Learn more about allergy tests for dogs and cats

Allergy tests for Dogs and Cats

The very first step in treating allergies in pets is a diagnosis. Make sure that your dog or cat is suffering from an allergy and not from a different condition. We strongly encourage all pet owners to consult with their veterinarians and see if it is necessary to send tests to the veterinary reference laboratory. There are various allergy tests dogs available, including skin tests, blood tests and a food elimination diet.

Skin Test

Skin allergy tests for dogs and cats, also known as an intradermal skin test, involves injecting small quantities of allergens into the patient’s skin. This procedure is usually performed under sedation or general anesthesia and requires skin shaving. This test is suitable for the detection of airborne substances and can help to detect food allergies.

Blood Test

Blood allergy tests for dogs and cats involve taking a blood sample from a pet and submitting the sample to a Veterinary Diagnostics Lab. The laboratory then tests the blood serum by measuring the level of allergen-specific antibodies (IgE) produced by the immune system against the allergens that contribute to allergy symptoms. There are several Veterinary Diagnostics laboratories that offer blood allergy testing. These laboratories use different techniques to perform the tests. These techniques may vary in accuracy and clinical relevance.

Pet Preferred Diagnostics uses innovative technologies to test your pet's blood serum sample. Our allergy test for dogs and cats detects antibodies produced against environmental, insects, mold/fungi, different types of pollen and food allergens. Please follow the link to see our panels for dog and cat allergy testing.

 

Elimination diet

The elimination diet is a dietary transition to control your pet food allergy symptoms by systematically eliminating different ingredients over time to identify the offending ingredient. These trials can be more complicated and lengthier.

New Allergy Test Technology

Pet Preferred Diagnostics provides tests for all types of allergens using a new generation of advanced immunoblot based technology, fully automated and specifically designed for allergy testing. Our reference laboratory is the first and only veterinary laboratory service to meet the 24 hour turnaround time for tests, including allergy.

Treating Allergies In Dogs and Cats

The best way to treat an allergy is to minimize exposure to the allergen and follow your veterinarian’s advice.

 

It seems to be impossible to completely eliminate all of the offending agents, but we can always reduce their number.

General avoidance rules:​

 House dust: vacuuming (keep pets out of room for several hours)

 House dust mites:

  • Use a plastic cover over your pet's bed when not in use

  • Wash pet bedding in very hot water

  • Avoid stuffed toys

  • Keep pets in uncarpeted rooms

  • Run air conditioner during hot weather months

  • Vacuum home carpets with hypoallergic powder

 

   Mold:

  • Keep pets out of basements

  • Keep pets indoors when the lawn is being mowed

  • Avoid storing pet food in open-air containers

  • Use dehumidifiers

  • Clean and disinfect humidifiers

  • Avoid large numbers of houseplants

Pollen:​

  • Keep grass cut short

  • Rinse dog off after periods in high grass and weeds

  • Keep pets indoors during periods of high pollen season

Food:

Avoid the ingredients in your pet food that lead to dry itchy skin, hot spots, ear infections, excessive scratching and licking, bald patches, skin infections, diarrhea and vomiting.

Pet Preferred Diagnostics strongly encourage:

  • that all medicated treatments be approved by your veterinarian;

  • that you get your pet to an emergency veterinary hospital as quickly as possible if your pet suffers from a severe allergic reaction.