Lowest price guarantee - We will beat any price!
Free worldwide shipping for orders over $50
 
Brands
Info
 

Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and of course, itching: these are all tell-tale signs that your fur baby may be suffering from allergies. Just like in humans, an allergy occurs when the pet’s immune system becomes overly sensitive to an everyday substance and considers it a threat. The adverse reaction occurs when the body tries to rid itself of this substance.

Common symptoms of allergies

Due to the wide range of allergens that can affect your pet, the symptoms, too, can be wide-ranging. Symptoms of allergies may be similar to other issues, such as a cold, but the main thing that may indicate an allergy is the itch factor. Continued scratching may be an indication of an allergic reaction or sensitivity, even in cases if it was something your pet has eaten or breathed in.

Allergies may manifest as:

  • Itchy skin – this is the most common sign of all allergies in both dogs and cats.
  • Itchy tail – in addition to generalized itching, cats and dogs with flea allergies may be particularly itchy around the base of their tail.
  • Ear infections
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhea – usually a symptom of a reaction to food.
  • Loss of appetite – in the case of food allergies.
  • Snoring – caused by a swollen throat.
  • Sensitive paws – you may notice the paws are swollen or that your pet is chewing them.
  • Coughing – note that cats rarely cough and this is almost certainly a sign of allergies or asthma.

Acute allergic reactions result in much more serious symptoms. These are most likely when your pet has a true food allergy, as opposed to the more common food sensitivity. These reactions may also occur after vaccinations or bee stings.

Symptoms of acute allergic reactions:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, lips, eyes, and throat
  • Anaphylaxis – this involves breathing difficulties, a drop in blood sugar, and collapse. In the case of anaphylactic shock, pets require immediate medical attention.

Types of allergies

Allergic reactions can, in fact, be caused by pretty much anything, but they fall into four main groups:

Food allergies

Although people usually talk about food allergies, the more correct term for physical reactions to foods is a food sensitivity or intolerance. A true allergy can be compared to a peanut allergy in humans, where the food causes anaphylactic shock, which is much rarer.

A dog or cat can develop a sensitivity to anything in their diet, even if they have eaten it for years without a problem. In theory, animals can be intolerant to any food stuff, but the most common causes are beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, soy, dairy, and grains. The large number of ingredients found in commercial pet foods can make it hard to determine exactly which ingredient is the culprit.

A food allergy or intolerance should not be confused with a normal physical reaction to problematic food, such as vomiting after eating rancid meat.

Flea allergies

When we talk about a flea allergy, we don’t mean the normal scratching that a flea bite can cause. A true flea allergy will mean that even 2-3 bites can cause incessant itching for a number of weeks. Flea allergy dermatitis is caused when an animal develops a sensitivity to flea saliva. This saliva is injected into your pet’s skin when the flea feeds, provoking an immune response that leads to itching, rashes, raw skin and hair loss. This is a particularly common cause of allergies in dogs and cats.

Environmental allergies

Just as humans can suffer from hay fever, animals can also be allergic to things that they breathe in. The common organic causes of environmental include pollen, cut grass, dust, mold, and mildew, which may be worse at certain times of the year. For example, pollen is more problematic in Spring. There are also non-natural allergens that are termed environmental allergens, including perfume, cigarette smoke, and the dust from kitty litter.

Contact allergies

As the term suggests, contact allergies are caused by something that comes into direct contact with your pet. Contact allergy reactions are not as common and tend to be restricted to the area of contact, but they can still be unpleasant for the animal. As you can imagine, the list of potential contact allergens is extensive but includes:

  • Medicated products – Be aware that your dog or cat may be sensitive to particular ingredients found in common parasite treatments.
  • Cleaning products– Consider the surfaces that your pet comes into contact with and the products you use to clean them, particularly anything you use to wash their bedding. Even products designed specifically for pets, such as shampoos, can cause allergic reactions in some animals.
  • Plastic and rubber – Did you know your pet can be allergic to their food bowl? Consider switching from plastic to glass or ceramic.
  • Fabrics – Even natural fabrics can be problematic, wool and feathers in particular.

Complications of allergies

As well as providing ongoing distress and pain to your furry friend, allergies can lead to other issues. Environmental allergens can lead to bronchitis, sinus infections or asthma. Sinus infections will require treatment, and should not be treated with over the counter medications. In cats, the coughing of asthma and bronchitis can appear similar to coughing up a hairball, so owners should take care to notice if this coughing is regular and persistent.

Any allergic reaction that causes skin irritation can also trigger a hot spot. Hot spots are formed after an animal scratches, licks or bites the same patch of skin continuously. As bacteria enter the broken skin, an infection develops, leading painful hot skin, open sores, and hair loss. Due to the cycle of infection and itching, these hot spots do not resolve on their own and will require treatment.

Diagnosing allergies

Unfortunately, diagnosing allergies can be difficult and time-consuming, due to the sheer number of potential allergens that may be affecting your pet.

Food allergens are usually established by placing your pet on a strict elimination diet, that removes all potential allergens. This usually involves a limited ingredient diet based on proteins that your pet may not have eaten previously, such as duck or bison. If the adverse reactions subside, other ingredients are slowly introduced in order to discover the cause of the problem.

In the case of a suspected contact or environmental allergy, your vet will likely perform a blood test or a skin (pin-prick) test. For a pin-prick test, a patch of the skin will be shaved and injected with small amounts of the potential allergens. Within 15 minutes, any allergic reactions will usually develop at the injection site.

Preventing and treating allergies

While there’s no way of curing an allergy to a particular substance, food or parasite, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the impact that these allergies have on your pet.

The most important thing you can do is to prevent or reduce exposure to the allergen, which is obviously only possible when you know exactly what your pet is allergic to. For food allergies, this will mean eliminating the allergen from the diet, while making sure your pet still gets the right balance of nutrients.

For allergies to fleas or other parasites, the key is maintaining regular parasite prevention. Fleas can be difficult to eradicate due to their fast breeding cycle, which is why your pet needs to be treated every month to keep the pests at bay. You’ll also need to maintain a flea-free environment by tackling fleas in the home and in your yard.

Environmental triggers are much more difficult to avoid, particularly for dogs and outdoor cats, however, there are some steps you can take to lessen the impact. By regularly vacuuming and washing your pet’s bedding you will reduce the amount of dust and other allergens that might linger. You could also consider an air purifier. If your pet’s environmental allergy results in skin problems, regular bathing will clean the skin of allergens.

If the allergen cannot be avoided, then you will need to treat the symptoms as they arise. There are plenty of medicated and natural products that can help soothe itchy skin and provide your pet with some relief. Antibiotic creams will both reduce itching and also prevent the development of infections.

Your vet may also to prescribe medication to assist with symptoms, particularly for environmental allergies. These include antihistamines for sneezing and watery eyes, corticosteroids to control itching, and antibiotics to treat any secondary infections that develop.


Allergies in Dogs and Cats

There are no products to display

What we’ve been talking about!

See all

Signs your dog is co-dependent and how to help him

by james on 18 May 2022
Dogs love to be around their humans, but can become overly reliant in some cases. Here’s how to recognize signs of a codependent pet. Signs your dog is co-dependent and how to help him It may seem cute when your dog follows you around the house, but being too dependent on his own can cause damage to your pup’s wellbeing. Just like in people, codependency is a true problem for some dogs that leads to anxiety and destructive behaviors when you’re not able to be around. Codependency exists when someone—including a pet— becomes overly reliant on another for his existence or identity. A dog that is codependent will not feel comfortable when left without his beloved owner for even a short amount of time, leading to signs such as barking or crying; pacing; chewing or otherwise damaging furniture or the house; using the bathroom on the floor; and even running away. These symptoms of distress indicate a pet is truly not comfortable when you are not around, leading to anxiety and a lowered quality of life. Fortunately for pets experiencing these symptoms, you can take steps to address separation anxiety as soon as you recognize it in your pet. To help Fido feel more confident while you are not around, it is important to first take him to the veterinarian for a check-up that rules out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing his attention-seeking behavior. Once medical reasons are off the table, you can begin helping your pet adjust to time without you by gradually making short, frequent trips away from home—such as to the grocery store or bank. Do not make saying goodbye or greeting your pet a big ordeal, as dogs follow our cues and can take dramatic reunions and departures as a sign that leaving is a significant event. Instead, remain calm and depart quietly to show him this is a normal event and no cause for concern. You can also help a clingy canine overcome his fear of being left alone by stimulating his body and mind with regular exercise, playtime and interactive toys. This helps release pent-up energy while you are home and distract him from his worries while you are away. This should cut down on the energy he has to engage in destructive behaviors while you are away, and will help keep his mind on with positive playtime rather than his anxiety. If your pet has internalized certain actions, such as reaching for your keys, as a signal to start worrying, help desensitize him to these behaviors by carrying your keys around the house when you do not intend to leave, for example. If your pet is experiencing extreme separation anxiety, talk to an animal behaviorist about training and behavior modifications that can help your pet learn to manage his anxiety in your absence. Repetition is key in helping your pet feel relaxed, so practice patience while you are helping him overcome codependent behaviors and mindset. Your companion’s wellbeing and the bond you share will be well worth the effort.

How much playtime does my dog need?

by james on 06 May 2022
Playtime benefits our dogs mental and physically, but how much is enough? Here are some guidelines to help prioritize play with your pet. How much playtime does my dog need? Between busy work schedules and spending time with your human family, it can be easy to let quality time with Fido fall to the wayside. Depending on his age and breed, your dog has specific exercise and activity needs that are important to prioritize, however, for his mental and physical wellbeing. In turn, a calm and happy pet will contribute to your overall quality of life, too. Many factors come into play when determining how much playtime your canine companion truly needs and age is one of the most important. Puppies need plenty of quality time as they master basic motor skills, obedience and other crucial components of growing into an adult. A good rule of thumb is to offer your young pup at least five minutes of exercise for each month of age until he is fully grown, and do this twice a day. If your pet is four months old, for example, try to take him on two twenty-minute jaunts a day. As dogs mature, they require less attention, but have much more stamina for sustained activity from hiking and walking to playing games of fetch at the dog park. While you should work to meet your individual dog’s playtime and exercise needs, must adult dogs dog do well with 30 minutes to two hours of exercise spread across a day. These can be a range of activities from trips to the dog park to agility training, walking or playing fetch in the back yard. These activities do not just stimulate your dog both physically and mentally, but also improve the bond you share and can help a range of behavioral problems by keeping Fido from becoming overly bored or energetic. As he enters his senior years, your pet will lead a slower pace of life. Though aging dogs’ activities levels may change, however, they still need plenty of quality time with their human family. Continue to spend at least 30 minutes a day actively engaging with your pet in gentler playtime, based around his specific physical abilities and needs. Many older pet parents take their dogs swimming, which allows Fido to engage in activity without putting pressure on sensitive joints. Dogs’ exercise needs also vary by breed, with many smaller pets requiring lower activity levels then their mid- to large- size peers. Likewise, giant breed such as Newfoundlands tend to require slightly less activity, as do short-nosed dogs such as bulldogs and pugs, which are prone to labored breathing and require less-active lifestyles. Playing with your pet not only improves his quality of life, but helps get you up and moving. Watch your individual dog to make sure you are meeting his unique exercise needs. If he is restless, overweight, or engaging in destructive behaviors, chances are both you and your companion will benefit from increased time engaged in play or training. 

Why do dogs bark at each other during walks?

by james on 25 Mar 2022
Whether he wants to greet every dog on the street or is protective of his owner, a dog barks on walks. Here’s when it can become a problem. Why do dogs bark at each other during walks? Many dogs bark at other dogs on walks, but it can be uncomfortable when your pet is the one instigating a noisy exchange. To help Fido stay calm during his daily stroll, you must first figure out the underlying trigger causing him to snap at other animals as they pass. Here are a few likely culprits behind a reactive Rover’s behavior: 1. He is frustrated. We walk our pets on leashes to ensure their own safety and the safety of those nearby. Though many dogs respond well to leash walking, it can create what is known as barrier frustration for pets eager to explore. Friendly dogs can feel irritated by this lack of freedom to greet each passing pet, leading to barking that can be misconstrued as aggressive or inappropriate behavior. This is a particular problem in energetic youngsters, so it is important to address the behavior from an early age. 2. He wants his space. Not all dogs who bark at other animals want to make friends. Some dogs use their voices to communicate a “stay back” message to four-legged passersby. This is likely due to a lack of socialization with other dogs and often stems from fear or a negative past experience with strange animals. 3. He is protective of you. Known as resource guarding, this type of barking is another “stand back” message, but it is aimed to keep other animals away from a valuable resource—mostly likely, you. Though Fido could be protecting a bag of treats or toy you are carrying, he is most likely vocalizing to let other animals know you are his person. This jealous barking can escalate if two dogs meet and may even lead to a fight if another animal gets too close to a protective pet. Watch your dog and what triggers his barking during walks. To address it, start with the root of the problem. If Fido is fighting to greet every potential friend he sees, practice obedience training before ever taking to the streets. While letting him sniff each new friend may seem like a good idea, this actually teaches him to continue barking to seek his “reward” and will escalate the behavior. Instead, practice the “heel” command at home and ask your dog to do this whenever he becomes excited at a new potential playmate. Lavish him with praise and treats when he follows the command and his behavior should improve with time. If, however, your dog’s vocalizations are a warning to other animals, you will need to take a different approach to the problem. For dogs barking to assert their space, try a front-attaching harness to more easily bring your pet’s attention back to you when he begins to become assertive around other animals. After refocusing his attention on you, give him a treat to build positive associations with seeing other animals. Offering treats when protective pets begin to bark is effective, too, as your dog will learn that he gets your attention when other animals are near. In many cases, these methods will be enough to modifying Fido’s behavior with practice and time, but some owners will need the help of a behavior specialist to address their dog’s excessive vocalizations during walk.