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The Most Common Causes of Allergies in Pets and What To Do About It

Published on: July 12, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

tabby cat outside on porch Oh, the dreaded allergy season. If only it could disappear forever. Our furry companions can relate, as they too can suffer from a variety of bothersome or even debilitating allergies. And these allergies aren't always limited to certain times of the year. Interestingly enough, our pets often experience the same symptoms as humans, making it quite challenging to determine the root cause of their discomfort.








It is crucial to remain determined in finding a solution. As a caring pet parent, witnessing your beloved four-legged companion suffer is the last thing you want. Merely telling them to stop licking is not effective. Therefore, if you notice any of these signs, it is imperative to consult with your veterinarian to kickstart the diagnostic process.

  • Incessant licking – of paws, belly, groin
  • Frequent scratching (some dogs will scratch their skin raw, causing “hot spots” that invite infections)
  • Hair loss
  • Ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea, or reduced appetite) 

Similar symptoms can also be caused by skin mites, endocrine diseases such as Cushing’s, or fungal infections. 

What could be the problem?

You name it. Both dogs and cats can be allergic to:

  • Pollen (especially grass)
  • Food (specific ingredients such as corn, soy, wheat, chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy products)
  • Fleas (yes, allergic to flea saliva, not merely a reaction to flea bites)
  • Prescription medications (rare in cats) 

Cats can also develop allergies to various household allergens, including dust, mold, mites, and even fragrances found in their toys and bedding. If you happen to notice the presence of hard or pus-filled bumps on your cat's chin, it could be a condition known as "chin acne," which is often caused by an allergy to plastic. To prevent any discomfort or irritation, consider serving your cat's food and water in bowls made of glass, ceramic, or metal.

Almost a third of cats and dogs who have food-related allergies are also allergic to fleas or environmental triggers such as pollen. 

What can you do?

Allergies can affect dogs and cats at any age. As they get older, they can develop new allergies. This is a common problem for cats. Age can also cause existing allergies to become more severe. 

Relocating to a different geographic area or climate can trigger allergic reactions in your pet as they adapt to the new environment. If you are moving to a foreign country, it is crucial to be extremely vigilant about this possibility and familiarize yourself with the local flora and fauna that may pose a threat to your furry companion's wellbeing.

Since allergies cannot be cured, the primary objective is to relieve the discomfort and painful symptoms. The best approach to achieve this is by removing the trigger from your pet's surroundings. Although altering their diet may help, it is not always feasible to eliminate environmental sources entirely.

  • Your veterinarian may conduct a skin test, similar to the one performed on humans, to narrow down the potential causes of your pet's allergies. This test can provide valuable information that can be used to create a personalized immunization program, which has been shown to be effective in about 70% of dogs.
  • Using flea and tick medication is absolutely essential. These pesky parasites not only cause painful and itchy bites, but they can also trigger allergies in some pets and transmit diseases. It's important to never use flea and tick medication intended for dogs on your cat, as the ingredients can make them very sick.
  • Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, may also be effective in relieving allergy symptoms. However, it is crucial to discuss this with your veterinarian first. Different medications work differently, and getting the dosage right is critical for your pet's safety and well-being.
  • Steroids can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help reduce itchiness and swelling caused by allergies. However, it's important to note that long-term use of steroids can lead to serious health problems, so they should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a veterinarian.
  • Supplementing your pet's diet with fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acid supplements can support skin health, which can help protect against environmental allergens and reduce swelling. These supplements also provide added benefits for your pet's joints and heart health.
  • If food allergies are the issue, you may need to eliminate treats and table scraps from your pet's diet. While this may be disappointing for your furry friend, there are other ways to show your love, such as providing more toys and catnip mice.
  • If your pet is allergic to grass pollen, it may be impossible to keep them off the lawn. In that case, establishing a regular paw-cleansing routine when they come back inside can help minimize the allergens they bring with them. Wiping their feet and fur with a damp cloth can be effective. If the problem is severe, bathing your dog more frequently may also help, although be cautious not to bathe them too frequently as it can lead to dry skin.

Finding the best solution for your pet's allergies may require some trial and error, so it's important to work closely with your veterinarian. By taking action early, you can help provide relief for your beloved pet and improve their overall quality of life.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.