When I¿was a youngster growing up in the 1970s and 80s, allergies were almost unheard of. Certainly, if one of your classmates in school had allergies, they were considered to be very unusual.
Even then, their allergies were not considered to be serious. Today, allergies among children can be so serious that one simple touch of a peanut, with peanut food allergies, can be fatal. Imagine that — the tiniest exposure to certain foods that they are allergic to can cause them to die.
Additionally, now it seems like more kids have allergies than those that don’t. One thing is for sure, I didn’t see nearly as many dogs and cats with allergies 20 years ago as I see now. The number of dogs and cats with allergies has grown tremendously in the last few years. Personally, I believe the increase in allergy cases is because of more exposure of our immune systems to chemicals, disinfectants, cleaning products and perfumes.
Dogs and cats are similar to people when it comes to many medical conditions. Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease and even cancer are only a few examples of common ailments of dogs and cats. However, pets’ allergies are not very similar to people allergies. Pets can be allergic to the exact same things as people but their symptoms and treatment are extremely different.
People and pets can be allergic to such things as pollen from flowers and trees, grass, weeds, mildew, dust mites, insects, fleas, chemicals and food. Sometimes pets experience the typical respiratory symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing and itchy, watery eyes. However, most often, pets’ allergy symptoms are itching, scratching and chewing due to severely inflamed skin.
There are four basic types of allergies in pets: inhalant allergy, flea allergy, food allergy and contact allergy. Regardless of which type your pet might have, they usually have some kind of skin problem. Certainly, on occasion, a pet with inhalant allergies has respiratory symptoms, even allergic bronchitis, just like a pet with food allergies may have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. But again, more often they will have itchy skin.
Each type of allergy has a typical pattern of hair loss and irritated skin. For example, dogs with inhalant allergies usually lick or chew on there paws. Also, they may itch a lot on the underside of their chest and abdomen. Flea allergies in dogs cause hair loss and inflamed skin at the base of their tail and on their rear legs. Dogs with food allergies can itch anywhere on their body, but often they have recurring or chronic ear infections. Cats with food allergies usually have intense itching around their neck and head. Other allergies in cats often cause scabs around their necks and at the base of their tails.
Contact allergies are simply when a pet’s skin comes into contact with an irritant. The underside of the pet is usually affected because that is the area affected while lying down.
If your dog has seasonal allergies affecting him or her only during certain times of the year, that suggests inhalant allergies. Year-round allergies would suggest possible food allergies.
Commonly, pets will have combination allergies. They have more than one type of allergy. They may have inhalant and food allergies at the same time. Those pets tend to be more difficult to diagnose and treat. Since pets’ allergies are so different, treatment is often very challenging. Most of the time, medications such as over-the-counter antihistamines, work better for people than animals. Therefore, if your pets have symptoms of allergies, contact your veterinarian to get the best treatment protocol and to ensure your pets live a long, healthy and happy life.