Just like humans, pets may have a variety of allergies. Unlike humans, however, pets’ allergies aren’t most commonly known for affecting their respiratory systems. This is not to say that congestion, sneezing, runny eyes, and even coughing may occur, but are not the tell-tale symptoms. Most often, pet allergies present as allergic dermatitis, or an inflammation or irritation of the skin. If your cat or dog is suffering from an allergy, it is likely he will be itchy. If you notice your pet scratching excessively, biting himself, or rubbing against vertical surfaces, such as furniture, door frames, or corners, he probably has some serious itchiness. Of course, an animal may just have an itch from time to time, but if you notice your pet itching a lot, there may be an allergen in play.
If itching goes unrelieved, it may cause more serious problems. The skin may become inflamed and a pet may even scratch his skin open. An animal may pull his own fur out in an attempt to relieve his misery. Scabs may develop over areas of skin that have been scratched or chewed open. Hot spots may occur for dogs, but are extremely rare for cats. A hot spot is an infection that occurs in a dog’s skin when the naturally occurring bacteria on his body overwhelms the skin. This often causes extreme redness, and may be accompanied by bleeding and/or hair loss.
Pets with allergies are also prone to problems with their ears. This is more common in dogs, but certainly not unheard of in cats. The ear canals may become itchy and inflamed, or a yeast or bacterial infection may occur in the ears. A dog with itchy ears may scratch until small scrapes or cuts develop, increasing the risk of infection. Recurrent ear infections are not only uncomfortable, they may cause complications, up to and including hearing loss. If you notice your pup frequently scratching his ears, shaking his head, or losing hair around his ears, he may have a problem with his ears. If his ears are hot, red, or have any sort of discharge, you should schedule an appointment with your vet.
To help your pet cope with seasonal allergies, keep the house clean. If your pet goes outside, try to wipe his paws before he comes back in to reduce the amount of pollen tracked inside. Vacuum frequently, particularly in areas that your pet likes to hang out. Frequent baths will also reduce the amount of the allergen your furry friend tracks around the house, and the use of a hypoallergenic oatmeal shampoo may even help reduce itching. Your veterinarian may recommend medication to help relieve symptoms as well.