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Could your dog or cat have allergies?

Cat stares at camera

Dogs and cats often display allergy symptoms differently than people do, which can make it difficult to identify and treat them. Unfortunately, untreated allergies can lead to chronic ear infections and skin issues such as infections and loss of fur.

When a dog or cat has an allergy, it typically falls into one of these three categories:

Environmental: Seasonal allergies are the most common type of environmental allergy for dogs and cats. Common culprits include pollen, ragweed, dust mites, cigarette smoke, or anything else in the environment that he breathes in and has a reaction to. Typical symptoms include: • Licking excessively on his sides or groin area • Rubbing his face • Scabs • Patches of baldness • Wheezing and inflammation

Ear infections are common with seasonal and environmental allergies. In addition to rubbing around her ear, your pet is likely to display the following symptoms:

• Scratching in and around the ear • Loss of balance • Discharge from the ear that is brown, yellow, or bloody • Odor from the ear • Hearing loss • Rubbing her ear on the ground or furniture to relieve discomfort • Scabs or crusts inside or outside of the ear

If you suspect that your dog or cat has an ear infection, it’s important to contact your veterinarian right away for an evaluation. Treatment typically consists of cleaning your pet’s ears in the office and finishing a course of oral or topical medications at home.

Contact Dermatitis: This type of allergy occurs when your pet’s skin touches something he has developed a sensitivity to, such as cleaning products or the ingredients in a flea collar. Symptoms normally include small red bumps, excessive scratching, and possible fur loss.

Some pets can develop flea dermatitis if they’re allergic to flea saliva. This will cause nearly non-stop scratching because it’s extremely uncomfortable for animals. Other parasites can cause allergy symptoms as well, which is why year-round parasite prevention is essential.

Food Allergies: When a companion animal has allergies, food ingredients are the cause about 15 percent of the time. Corn, wheat, soy, eggs, and several types of meat are the most common offenders. Food allergies can also cause chronic ear and skin infections, along with diarrhea and vomiting. Itching in the armpits, ears, legs, feet, and face are the primary symptoms.

Your veterinarian will run laboratory tests and ask about your pet’s home environment to pinpoint the cause of his allergy symptoms. If your pet requires a special diet, needs allergy medication, or you’re looking for the best form of parasite control, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

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