For those who suffer from asthma and seasonal allergies, symptoms often flare in spring. It makes sense, then, that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) annually designates May as National Asthma and Awareness Month. While some of the symptoms between people and pets differ, pets can experience allergies and asthma, too, which is why we turn this month’s spotlight to this important aspect of pet health.

Types of Pet Allergies

Allergies in pets stem from the same immune response that causes allergies in humans. Common pet allergies include:

  • Food
  • Flea and parasite-induced allergies
  • Dust, mold, and pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Allergic reactions to medications
  • Household chemical allergies, such as plastic, shampoos, and cleaning products

In cats and dogs, allergy symptoms commonly manifest themselves in repetitive scratching, licking, and paw chewing. You may notice recurrent ear infections, skin irritation and infection, and patches of hair loss. As with humans, some pets will experience sneezing and runny eyes. Food allergies in pets often cause diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting.

Allergy Testing and Treatment

Testing for pet allergies shares similarities to testing in humans. For food allergies, pet owners will need to identify the specific allergen through a strict elimination diet. Environmental allergies can be determined by a veterinarian through blood samples or intradermal skin tests. Although there is no cure for allergies, avoiding triggers and making simple lifestyle changes can alleviate symptoms. In cases of severe allergies, medications or cortisone shots may be prescribed under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Asthma in Cats and Dogs

Pets with asthma show respiratory signs such as coughing, wheezing, and breathing trouble. Pets in acute respiratory distress may exhibit a purple tongue and gums, and should be seen by an animal care provider immediately.

Some pets are predisposed to asthma through genetics, but in many cases, the cause is not yet known. Common triggers of pet asthma include smoke of all types, stress, pollen, strong chemical scents, dust, and aerosols.

Pets diagnosed with asthma will need a managed care plan to reduce triggers and prevent future attacks. Steroids, antihistamines, and inhalers are all possibilities, but never give your pet over-the-counter medication meant for humans unless recommended by your veterinarian.

If you believe your pet may be suffering from allergies or asthma, it’s best to schedule an exam. Animal Care Clinic of Bedford, Indiana, uses an extensive range of traditional and complementary treatment options to form a wellness plan for each of our pets. Please visit our site for more information, or call us at (812) 279-1516 to schedule an appointment.