Ask a Vet: Does My Pet Have Allergies?

Believe it or not, just like us humans, our pets can have allergies! An allergy is an immune system response caused by a protein source that the body recognizes as foreign. The immune system then tries to fight off the “foreign invasion.”

The Two Types of Pet Allergies:

There are two main types of allergies in dogs and cats:

  1. Atopic dermatitis—skin reactions to environmental allergens
  2. Adverse food reactions

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis looks like a painful skin reaction, and it can be caused by a number of environmental factors. For example, if your dog is allergic to a certain type of grass, running across that grass can make their skin inflamed and itchy. Oftentimes, atopic dermatitis pops up seasonally, but there are instances in which animals can be particularly sensitive to environmental allergens within the home.

Adverse Food Reactions

While adverse food reactions are generally rare, some cats and dogs do have food allergies. In order to test whether a pet has food allergies, vets will often recommend a 12-week food trial on a brand new food with a protein source your pet has never eaten before. Owners should be certain that their pet hasn’t been exposed to the protein already. If your pet has already been exposed to a protein during a food trial, you won’t be able to track reliable results and help ease your pet’s symptoms.

If your pet consistently has any of the following symptoms, check with your vet to see if you should test your animal for allergies:

  • Itchiness
  • Hair loss from scratching
  • Redness of the skin
  • Recurring skin or ear infections
  • Skin lesions
  • Gastrointestinal upset

Once you know your pet has allergies, it’s important to make sure they’re getting the nutrition they need. Formulas with EPA, DHA and other skin support nutrients will help protect your animal’s raw “hot spot” from secondary infection. It will also help support overall skin and coat health for your animal and get them back into beautiful shape.

Also, be sure you check the protein source featured in the food. Animals are allergic to proteins first and foremost, so if your pet is allergic to that protein, it will only continue the allergic reaction.

Getting a plan in place with your vet is the first and best step you can take toward making your pet feel better.     

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