May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness
While the awareness campaign is aimed at humans, pet owners
should be able to recognize signs of asthma or allergies in their pets also. At Salt Lake County Animal Services, we often see pets come in with allergies not diagnosed.
Have you ever wondered if your pet may be experiencing an
allergic reaction to something in the environment, or the food it’s eating?
When we think about allergies, we are usually thinking about
watery, itchy eyes or a runny nose but in a dog or a cat, allergies look
Most allergies we see in our pets show up in the form of
skin issues, itching, red skin, hair loss, ear infections and even GI issues.
This can be frustrating because they can be difficult to control and treat.
Allergies in pets can be classified as either environmental
Food usually accounts for approximately 10% of pet allergies
and may show up at any age.
When dealing with food allergies the allergen is usually a
protein in the food such as chicken, beef, a carbohydrate preservative or food
dye. These allergies are usually treated by a food trial with a limited
ingredient diet that contains a novel protein your animal has not eaten before
and one other carbohydrate source, such as green pea. It is important to note
that it can take up to six weeks to see any results of the skin issues
resolving after changing the diet.
Environmental allergies are often the same things that
trigger hay fever in us, things like pollens, molds, dust mites, cleaning
products, and so on. When a dog or a cat has an allergy to these things it is
an exaggerated response by the immune system to something in the environment
that shouldn’t cause an immune response.
In dogs you will often see chronic ear infections and their
feet, armpits, lower belly and face tend to be very itchy causing them to
scratch and lick these areas.
Dog Allergy Symptoms
- Increased Scratching
- Red, moist or scabbed skin
- Runny eyes
- Chewing or constant licking
- Swollen paws
- Snoring due to an inflamed throat
- chronic ear infections
Cats will also become very itchy and may develop ear
infections or even pull out their fur. In some cases, they will develop lip
Cat Allergy Symptoms
- Urinating issues
- Inflammation of the skin
- Itchy skin
- Muscle Weakness
- Shortness of breath
In both pets, the itching can cause trauma to the skin and
cause a secondary infection, so it is very important to seek treatment when you
first notice your animal may have food or environmental allergies.
Asthma is an allergic reaction to an
environmental stimulant, it can also affect dogs and cats at this time of the
do I know my pet has asthma?
- Coughing and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Pale or blue gums (see a vet immediately)
can you do to prevent asthma?
- Do not smoke in your house or around your pet
- Refrain from using
hair sprays, perfumes and air fresheners
- Consider using baking
soda in shallow dishes for absorbing odors
- Clean your cats litter box
- Bathe your pet regularly
If you think your pet is suffering from allergies or asthma
consult with your veterinarian to ensure what you are seeing is allergy
related. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication depending on the severity
of the allergy and just like people pets can be given an allergy shot. In some
cases, you may just need to switch your pet’s food and your veterinarian can
help you with a food trail to help you know what certain food ingredients the
culprit may be.
Make sure to act quickly, ignoring the signs and symptoms of
allergies and asthma can lead to a more acute problem in the future.