Just like their human owners, pets can have allergies which means they too can have allergic reactions. If you are a cat or dog owner, you'll want to understand the types of allergies that can affect your pets and what some of the common allergic reactions are.
Three Types of Allergies
There are generally three types of allergies that can affect both cats and dogs. These allergy types include atopy, food, and contact dermatitis.
1. Atopy - when a cat or dog is allergic to something they inhale, it means they have an atopy allergy. This type of allergy is usually seasonal and common types of allergens include:
- Dust mites
Pets with atopy generally exhibit symptoms such as constant licking, rubbing their face into the floor, watery eyes, asthma-like wheezing, and inflamed ears.
2. Food allergy - just like people, dogs and cats can be allergic to certain ingredients in their food. Some of the most common food allergens include:
- Dairy products
Cats and dogs can also be allergic to meat products such as chicken, lamb, beef, and seafood. Pets with food allergies generally exhibit symptoms such as recurring ear infections, frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss.
3. Contact dermatitis - When pets are allergic to certain things they come into contact with, they have contact dermatitis. Some of these allergens might include:
- Certain chemicals in shampoos, topical medications, flea collars
- Grasses and pollens
- Materials such as plastic, leather, and wool
This type of allergy usually affects the part of the cat or dog's body that doesn't have a lot of hair including the feet, chin, and the underside of the body. The most common symptom is a skin rash with red bumps. Hives and hair loss are other symptoms and pets tend to scratch, lick, and bite the affected areas.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Pets are not exempt from having severe allergic reactions. One of the most severe being anaphylaxis. Normally this type of reaction happens immediately after a cat or dog ingests or inhales something to which they are allergic. If this type of allergic reaction is left untreated, pets can go into shock, cardiac arrest, or it can cause them to die. Pet owners should not ignore the symptoms of anaphylaxis which can include:
- Pale gums due to a rapid drop in blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
If you suspect your pet is having this life-threatening allergic reaction, you'll need to ensure your pet receives emergency veterinary services (like Animal House Veterinary Hospital) right away. For other types of allergies, contact your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.