Being itchy, scratchy, coughy, or sneezy is no fun for anyone or for your pet. Pets, just like people, can suffer from allergies and asthma. Allergies are common in dogs and cats, and they can manifest in various ways, such as itchy skin, ear infections, and gastrointestinal problems. Asthma, on the other hand, is more common in cats than dogs and can cause breathing difficulties and coughing. Let’s dive a little deeper into these issues and what you can do to help your furry friend!
Allergies in Pets
Allergies occur when a pet’s immune system overreacts to a substance that is typically harmless. The most common allergens for pets are pollen, dust mites, and certain proteins found in food. Allergies can affect dogs and cats of all ages and breeds, and the symptoms can vary depending on the allergen and the severity of the reaction.
Symptoms of allergies in pets may include:
- Itchy, red, or inflamed skin
- Ear infections or ear inflammation
- Runny nose or eyes
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea
- Sneezing and coughing
If you suspect that your pet has an allergy, the team at Love City Vet is here to help. We can work on determining the cause of the allergy and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options may include medications, diet changes, and/or avoiding the allergen if possible.
It’s important to call out fleas for the tiny annoying pesky insects they are! Pets can have allergic reactions to just one flea bite! To treat flea allergies, it’s important to both eliminate fleas from the pet and its environment and provide medication to relieve symptoms. Preventing flea infestations through regular preventatives is key to avoiding flea allergy in pets. If your pet isn’t on preventatives, we’re happy to find the right solution for you (and have options through our in-house and online pharmacy).
Sometimes it’s important to figure out the exact allergens your pet is allergic to. Note that none of these options will be able to test for food allergies effectively. Several different options exist so let’s briefly discuss them:
- Intradermal allergy testing
Because skin reactions are the most common symptom of allergies, these tests work very well
Done at a veterinary dermatologist office
Can be used to develop allergy shots specific for your pet
- Blood sample allergy testing (RAST)
Measures antibody levels to specific allergens
Can be done at Love City Vet
Less expensive than intradermal testing
Can be used to create allergy shots specific for your pet
- At-home testing
Only uses hair/saliva
No research backing up their efficacy
Asthma in Pets
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the lungs and airways. Asthma is more common in our feline friends than it is in dogs and can cause breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing. Asthma attacks can be triggered by various factors, including stress, exercise, and exposure to allergens, such as pollen or dust mites.
Symptoms of asthma in pets may include:
- Coughing, especially at night or early in the morning
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Lethargy or weakness
If you suspect that your cat has asthma, we can work to diagnose the condition through physical examination, chest x-rays, and blood tests. Treatment options may include medications, such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids (think oral or inhaler meds), and minimizing exposure to triggers.
Prevention and Management
Preventing allergies and asthma in pets can be challenging, but there are some steps you can take to minimize your pet’s exposure to allergens and irritants. These include:
- Keeping your home clean and dust-free
- Washing your pet’s bedding frequently
- Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke
- Using air purifiers or HEPA filters to reduce airborne allergens
- Feeding your pet high-quality, hypoallergenic food
- Keeping your pet at a healthy weight
With the right care and management, your furry friend even with allergies or asthma can live a happy and healthy life. As always, the team at Love City Vet is here to help!