There are two different types of allergies: Environmental and pet food allergies. If your pet is itchy or losing hair during spring, summer or fall, than most likely, your pet has seasonal, environmental allergies. If your pet is showing year-round symptoms, they may have food allergies, or may have just been exposed to many allergens throughout his life. If you live in a state that doesn’t have an extremely freezing winter, the allergens may stay in the air and build up year-round.
There are a few different signs your pet has environmental allergies. His skin will become very itchy, red and irritated. Unlike humans whose allergies consist of our respiratory tract, dogs and cats have more skin, related issues including, inflammation of the skin and irritation, which can also be called allergic dermatitis.
As your dog or cat continues to scratch around the clock, the skin becomes more inflamed and irritated causing soreness, hair loss and open sores. He will start scratching and licking excessively, until sores and raw patches appear on the skin. Hot spots can also develop from the constant licking. A hot spot is an inflamed, infected skin patch that occurs when your dog’s bacteria overwhelms an area of skin. A hot spot includes hair loss, puss and sometimes bleeding, depending on the severity of it.
Some pets also have issues in their ear canals – especially dogs. The ear canal may become itchy and irritated and can cause yeast or can become infection. Some of these symptoms can cause scratching, head shaking and a strong odor.
As stated above, respiratory allergies are not common in dogs or cats, though a runny nose, discharge from their eyes, coughing and sneezing can occur. Dogs or cats with weakness in their lungs can cause bronchitis or sinusitis, just like humans. Pets can also show puffy eyes, a red chin, and red paws.
An allergic reaction can occur from your pet’s immune system as a result from his genetics and the environment. Seasonal allergies can quickly turn into a year-round issue. If you continuously bring your dog or cat in for a check up, and your vet points out red paws, runny nose or red eyes, it may be that your pet suffers from year-round allergies. The more your pet is exposed to seasonal allergens, the more intense the allergies and symptoms become.
Some ways to alleviate some of the constant scratching and licking while wanting to stay away from medications, are weekly baths and frequent paw soaks. Vacuuming the carpets and keeping your home clean will help eliminate some of the allergens. Also cleaning your dog’s bed frequently using non-toxic cleaning agents, rather than household cleaning supplies with chemicals in them. Changing your dog’s diet to a low-carbohydrate, low protein diet can help minimize these allergies.
If you want some more information on how to care for your pet’s seasonal or year-round allergies, see your vet. Your vet will be able to give you the steps to take to help your pet’s allergies.