How to Deal With Your Pet’s Allergies
Animal allergies are a bummer at best (the puppy doesn’t hug you!), And at worst, life threatening. Research shows that up to 20% of people worldwide are allergic to dogs and / or cats, but an increasing number of animals are receiving treatment for their own allergies.
Although there is no reliable data on the prevalence of allergies in pets, anecdotal evidence suggests that about 10% of animals may have some type of allergy. The most common pet allergies are fleas, plants and dust mites, as opposed to humans, says Dr. Gary Richter, veterinary health expert with Rover.com . In some rare cases, pets may be allergic to each other .
If you think your pet is allergic, there are a few signs to watch out for:
- Itchy, red, or inflamed skin
- Chewing paws
- Infections (skin or ear)
- Respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, or wheezing)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting or diarrhea)
Richter says that if pets are allergic to another animal, the symptoms are more likely to show on the skin or in the respiratory system. If your pet develops any of these signs, the first thing to do before attempting any treatment is to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
While pet allergies can be controlled, they cannot be prevented and there is no cure. Here are some of the options your veterinarian might suggest.
Test and heal
Treating pet allergies often takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Like humans, pets can get some relief from allergy shots, but they are generally only available after rigorous testing and only if the allergy is environmentally related, says Dr. Tory Waxman, chief veterinarian at Sundays for Dogs . There are also many other pharmaceuticals with various side effects and more natural treatments. Again, talk to your veterinarian.
Look at your pet’s diet
Pets can be allergic to certain foods, and food can make the allergy worse. There are no effective tests for food allergies in pets, Waxman says, but your veterinarian can help you put together an elimination diet to narrow down the cause. Changing your pet’s food can also ease other allergy symptoms.
“Optimal nutrition and supplementation can help the body / immune system function better and thus hopefully limit allergies and allergic reactions,” says Richter.
Keep your pet clean
If you notice that your pet itches especially during certain seasons, Dr. Waxman recommends wiping his fur and paws every time they go inside to minimize constant exposure to environmental allergens.
Keep your home clean
As with humans, pet allergies can be exacerbated by the environment. Make sure your home has good air circulation and clean it regularly.
If you can completely avoid or completely eliminate the allergen, this is obviously the goal. But if one of your pets is allergic to another, this may not be possible, and treating the symptoms is your best option.
“People need to be careful about what works,” Richter says, adding that “after all, allergies are something that some pets / people just need to deal with and manage.”