Pets can have allergies too

cat with dim eyesWith spring right around the corner, many of us are bracing ourselves for pesky allergies. Just like people, pets can suffer from allergies, too. While humans tear, cough, and sneeze their way through allergy season, pets usually deal with allergies differently.

Dr. Adam Patterson, a clinical associate professor and chief of dermatology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said every animal has a different reaction to allergies, just as people respond to allergies differently. However, most animals display itch as a hallmark sign of allergic skin disease.

“An itch may be manifested as licking, chewing, biting, rubbing, scratching, head shaking, and/or scooting,” Patterson said. “Common itchy body areas include the face, ears, paws, armpits, groin, rump, and anal region. Horses may present with an itchy skin disease and/or hives.”

Allergens that most commonly irritate pets include fleas, pollen, molds, mites, insects, danders, and food.

“Every pet has its own itch tolerance, which means the intensity and reason(s) for your pet’s itch may not be the same as another animal,” Patterson said. “Regardless of the animal, allergic patients are prone to bacterial and yeast infections that can cause skin discoloration, hair loss, pimples, scabs, and/or ear disease.”

If your pet shows any sign of an allergy, it is best to contact your veterinarian so they can properly diagnose the cause of itch. Your veterinarian can also perform tests to determine the most effective treatment plan to alleviate your pet’s discomfort.

We all know how annoying allergies can be, so be sure to keep an eye on your pet this allergy season. If your pet shows any sign of an allergic skin disease, visit your veterinarian to help alleviate your pet’s discomfort.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk . Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu .

Allergy Sufferers Can Have Pets Too

lady and a catAllergies are among the most chronic conditions worldwide, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Though many of us love companion animals, some pets, especially cats and dogs, can cause allergic reactions in people.

Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained why some people are allergic to cats and dogs.

“People are typically allergic to the dander and saliva of dogs and cats,” Stickney said. “Cats groom themselves more than dogs, so more people are allergic to cats and have more severe symptoms than those allergic to dogs.”

Though hypoallergenic pets have become more popular, Stickney said recent evidence has shown that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat. However, there are several breeds of dogs and cats that are purported to cause less severe allergic reactions.

“A few examples of dogs that may cause less allergic reactions include labradoodles, bichon fries, poodles, and Portuguese water dogs,” Stickney said. “Some examples of cats include Devon rex, Siamese, and Sphynx.”

If being around cats and dogs is a must, Stickney said there are some ways to alleviate pet allergies. Some options include bathing your pet weekly, getting a HEPA filter for your home, designating a “pet-free” room or area of your house, washing pet beds frequently, dusting and vacuuming your house regularly, and washing your hands after handling a pet. Seeing a physician about allergy treatment options also may help.

Additionally, Stickney said some allergy sufferers can consider pets that are not known to cause allergies, such as lizards, ferrets, rats, and birds. However, Stickney reminds pet owners to do their research before getting a new pet.

“None of these animals should be ‘impulse buys’,” he said. “They all have unique husbandry and health care requirements.”

While allergies may affect our choice in pets, everyone can find a pet fit for them, even allergy sufferers.

 

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu .