Scratching the Surface of Your Pet's Allergies
By Amber Evans
While shopping at my local pet store, I met a woman accompanied by a lovely Standard Poodle. The woman was a wonderful conversationalist and the dog very well-mannered, but what I remember most clearly about the encounter was the text emblazoned across the front of the woman’s tee shirt:
“We got rid of the kids. The dog was allergic.”
It was a great ice breaker and a humorous one at that, but the truth is that pet allergies are no laughing matter. Like their human caretakers, dogs and cats can develop allergies to many substances in their environments. Scratching, sneezing and upset stomachs, among other uncomfortable symptoms, confuse and worry many pet parents. I have worked as a dog trainer, a doggy daycare attendant, and a pet sitter for the past several years and have had many opportunities to research this complex topic. I hope the information and insight I have gained might be of help to you as well.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a veterinarian. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, every pet is an individual. If you suspect your pet has developed an allergy, please seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding diagnosis and treatment options.
- Dogs and cats may develop allergies at any stage of life. Like humans, some pets are born with a sensitivity to certain substances. Others only develop this sensitivity over time.
- Allergic reactions seem to be especially common in Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, and brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston terriers.
- Some of the most common allergens (allergy-causing substances) are: Tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mites; fleas; cleaning products; and food ingredients.
- Of these, food allergies are perhaps the best known and the trickiest to accurately diagnose. They are commonly caused by sensitivity to beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy.
Fortunately, once the offending substance is identified by your veterinarian, there are several steps you can take to minimize your pet’s discomfort. Switching to a hypo-allergenic food free of any food allergens, careful measures of prevention in the case of flea allergies, and sometimes medications for dust and pollen allergies are among the more common measures your veterinarian may recommend.