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Symptoms of Allergies in Cats and Dogs

By Madeleine Burry. June 01, 2012 | See Comments

Symptoms of Allergies in Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs can experience allergies in response to environmental factors, fleas, and food. Here are the symptoms for each.

Cats and dogs can experience allergies in response to environmental factors, fleas, or food. Your pet’s symptoms will vary depending on the allergen and your pet’s particular reaction to it. The basic symptoms of allergies in cats and dogs are upset stomachs, itchy skin, excessive grooming, and sneezing. See below for a breakdown for how particular types of allergies tend to impact cats and dogs. In some cases, the symptoms can be fairly similar, making diagnosis of the particular factor that’s causing the allergy difficult.

Symptoms of Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause your cat or dog a great deal of gastrointestinal distress. Your pet may have an upset stomach or experience diarrhea or vomiting. But tummy issues are not the only symptom. Non-seasonal itching may also occur, and as a result of the scratching, you may also notice your pet having hair-free patches and itchy, swollen ears. Have you added a new food to your pet's diet? Combined with these symptoms, you could have a food allergy on your hands. 

Symptoms of Atopic Allergies

Atopic allergies, which are caused by factors in your pet’s environment, like blooming flowers or dust and mold, often cause your pet to have extremely itchy skin. If you spot your pet obsessively grooming -- licking the same areas repeatedly, even when discouraged -- that’s a strong signal that your pet has some sort of allergy, potentially to an environmental factor. This perpetual scratching and grooming can lead to hair loss, skin lesions, and hot spots. Keep an eye out for rashes, as well. Atopic allergies can also be the result of seasonal allergies, so if you see symptoms like frequent sneezing, itchy or red eyes, this could be a tip-off that your cat or dog is allergic to something blooming by your home.

Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

The main symptom of flea allergy dermatitis is itchy, irritated skin. Look again for signs of excessive grooming, and for the resulting scabs, hair loss, and hot spots from this behavior. One way to distinguish these symptoms from the very similar symptoms of atopic allergies is to look for irritated skin around the base of the tail, a characteristically itchy area with this type of allergy. Spotting fleas is another way to determine if it’s an insect allergy causing the skin conditions and your pet’s general condition.

Symptoms of Contact Allergies

Contact allergies can cause your cat or dog to have itchy skin, which can lead to the full complement of side effects from your pet’s response to the discomfort: excessive grooming, skin lesions, sores, scabs, and hair loss. Note that with contact allergies, the itchiness is often solely in the area of the pet’s body exposed to the allergen; for instance, if your cat is allergic to a flea collar, only the cat’s neck will be irritated and itchy.

Keep an eye out for these symptoms. While it can be hard in some cases to match the symptom to the factor causing the allergy, your vet can help you track down what’s causing the discomfort, and with simple changes to your pet’s environment or food or with a medication, you can ease your pet’s discomfort and prevent skin infections and sores.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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