Your pet can suffer from environmental allergies just as you do. Both cats and dogs can experience allergic reactions that are almost as severe as those of their owners, and they can become life-threatening.
There are two types of environmental allergies, which are also known as atopic dermatitis or atopy. The first is caused by having direct contact with an allergen, and the second by inhaling it. The main differences between the two types are the range and intensity of the symptoms.
This is an allergy that is caused by the animal breathing in the allergen. Your pet might be allergic to trigger substances such as:
- Dust Mites
Some of these are seasonal and won’t affect your pet during the winter, for instance. These can be harder to diagnose, however, because you won’t realize it’s an allergy once the symptoms disappear. In humans, inhalant allergies usually result in skin problems, such as ear infections, itchy eyes and feet.
Contact allergies develop when your pet’s skin becomes irritate by something it touches. The allergen could be anything ranging from cleaning agents to materials such as plastic, bedding material or fillers. This can lead to your pet needing hypoallergenic bedding and food bowls.
The symptoms of contact allergies include:
- Intense itching
- Red bumps that resemble hives
- Inflammation of the skin across much of the body
If your pet scratches constantly, she might break the skin and cause open sores or secondary infections.
Testing and Diagnosis
Diagnosing an allergy can be difficult and time consuming, so it’s important that you have your pet examined by a veterinarian when you first notice signs of discomfort. If you wait too long, the symptoms can become worse as the allergy spreads, and this can result in infections and other complications. Your veterinarian will test your pet for allergies using skin scrapes and cultures, which are sent away to a laboratory for analysis. The veterinarian might also suggest eliminating varies ingredients from your pet’s diet, and recommend a hypoallergenic prescription diet for a time. This can help determine if your pet has an allergy caused by food.
Methods of Treatment
The best way to treat allergies in the long term is to limit your pet’s exposure to the allergen. Treatment can then focus on curing the symptoms and any related infections, and by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle you can avoid a recurrence of the allergies. Your vet might also recommend various types of medication to help reduce the symptoms caused by allergic reactions, such as immunosuppressive drugs, antihistamines and steroids.