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Allergies in Pets

by Dr. Kelly Wolfensen Gauy

It’s allergy season and your pet is probably giving you some clues that the outdoors (or indoors) is bothering him or her.  Signs of allergies in pets are not the familiar upper respiratory, itchy eye type of symptoms we see in people.  Instead, pets’ allergies often manifest as skin issues: licking, chewing areas, hair loss, ear infections, and more.  You may notice your pet is constantly licking their feet, or that his ears are dirty, red, crusty, or smelly.  Your pet may develop a rash on its belly or moist discolored feet and the webbing in between toes.  These can be signs of allergies to the environment or to food.  Seasonal allergies to environmental causes often display a fall or spring peak, so make sure to mention this type of timing to your vet.  Food allergies can happen any time of year, at any time of a pet’s life, and can occur even if your pet has eaten the same type of food its whole life.  If there is broken skin, or a bad odor, your veterinarian may want to test for bacterial or yeast infections with a skin swab.  They can also check for external parasites with a flea comb or by examining a skin scraping under the microscope.  They may prescribe medicated shampoos, anti-fungal medications, or even antibiotics.  The most common allergy in animals is to fleas, and this is preventable.  Use whichever flea and tick preventative your veterinarian recommends for your pet every 30 days or as often as they recommend.  This will also help to keep fleas from invading your home.  Flea allergies most commonly manifest as hair loss above the tail and in the lower back area.  Allergies caused by foods may require a strict diet change with special attention to treats and eliminating sources of allergens in the diet.  Your veterinarian can also do skin or blood tests to attempt to determine the cause of the allergies, or they may refer you to a veterinary dermatology specialist.

Kelly Wolfenson Guay is a local veterinarian who specializes in house calls, seeing your pets where they are most comfortable: in your home!  Find Dr. Kelly’s House Calls on facebook or call 860-805-3726.