Something that many Chapel Hill area pet owners never consider about their pet’s health is whether they may have allergies. It shouldn’t be surprising to us that dogs and cats might have similar issues in this area. They are also mammals with many of the same basic organs and functions that we have. The immune system, whether in a dog, a cat, or a human, is meant to destroy threats from pathogens (like viruses and bacteria). Sometimes, though, for reasons we don’t entirely understand, the immune system will go on full on attack against an otherwise safe substance.
Dogs and cats have similar categories of allergens to ours, including:
- Foods (chicken, soy, beef, fish)
- Dust mites
- Pollens (trees, grasses, flowers, weeds)
- Insect bites (most often fleas)
Is allergy risk breed-specific?
Pet owners often wonder if there is any breed-specific tendency towards allergies. It does seem that certain types of dogs and cats are more likely than others to develop allergies. For dogs, for example, pugs, terriers, setters, bulldogs, retrievers, and shepherds are known for having more problems with allergies. This does not mean that any specific dog will be destined to have allergies, but it may be worth researching allergy risks specific to your pet’s breed.
Symptoms of pet allergies
Pets cannot tell us verbally when they aren’t feeling well, so pet owners have to look for signs. With allergies, there are some tell-tale signals you will see, like:
- Chewing on tails and paws
- Clawing and licking at the face, ears, or stomach
- Scabbing and missing fur
- Running nose
- Watery eyes
Treating pet allergies
If your furry friend is miserable, you want to do everything you can to get their tail wagging again. There are a number of effective treatments that can help treat allergies in pets. Corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation in the lungs and and itching. Anti-histamines, like Benadryl, can prevent histamine reaction from causing a number of common allergy symptoms.
Another more intensive, long-term approach you may want to consider, though, is allergy shots. Over time, and especially if started early in the pet’s life, these can greatly reduce allergic tendencies. For those pets who do not react well to needles, there are even needle-free methods, like one that deposits liquid under the tongue. If you live in Chapel Hill or the surrounding area, Dogwood Veterinary Hospital and Pet Resort can help discuss options for your pet that will help relieve their symptoms. Come see us!