The Latest Itch on Allergies


It used to be the allergic reaction to flea bites, or flea-allergy dermatitis, that used to give pet owners reason for concern. However, with the creation of more effective flea-control products, the incidents of flea-related allergic reactions have decline dramatically.

Taking place as the number one reason for most pets itching and scratching, this year, is a mixture of inhalant (environmental) and food allergies. Environmental allergies, usually caused by airborne allergens like grasses, pollens, and dust mites. The more commonly ingested allergens are proteins, such as beef, chick and soy, or carbohydrates like corn or wheat.

Extremely common in dogs, environmental allergies are known to affect more than 15 percent of the purebred dog population. Fortunately, if the allergy is to a solitary seasonal pollinator, such as goldenrod, the clinical allergy will also be seasonal. However, many dogs and cats have a combination of seasonal and nonseasonal allergies, which mix together to form a potent cocktail of year-round troubles, only with seasonal spikes where things are more intensified. If pets have food allergies, the problems are typically year-round, but there may also be seasonal spikes if there are concurrent inhalant allergies present as well.

Allergies also have a heritable component and tend to occur more often in certain families or lines of dog breeds, meaning that the offspring of allergic parents can also be allergic – something to inquire about when you go to purchase a puppy. In general, however, the breeds more likely to develop allergies are golden retrievers, Dalmatians, shar-pei, Labrador retrievers, boxers, bulldogs and virtually all varieties of terrier. If planning on buying one of these dogs, it is always a good idea to ask if the breeders know of any allergy histories in their line.

Cats usually exhibit their food allergies differently than dogs; more on their head, neck and ears, where dogs can have food allergies manifest all over their bodies. When people have allergies, they get stuff noses, cough and sneeze. Pets are more likely to scratch, lick and chew in a vain attempt to quell the intense itching sensations they experience. They lick and chew their paws until they?re wet, red or raw, rub their faces on the carpet, scratch frantically at their ears, and develop rashes in armpits and groin areas. Recurrent skin infections, the location of allergy symptoms, the breed of the pet, and the age of onset can all help your veterinarian confirm a diagnosis.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi spent her time working in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions.

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