Channel 4 news – 3 most common dog-related allergies

Allergies are one of the leading causes of visits to the veterinary office: They account for up to 25 percent of visits, according to some estimates. Allergic disease in dogs has three primary causes: fleas, food and the environment.

Animal lovers may be celebrating the arrival of Summer, but for many, the season is synonymous with the “A” word–allergies! Just like their pet parents, companion animals frequently develop allergies. In fact, information collected by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) shows that about one out of every five dogs nationwide suffers from some form of allergy.

An allergy is a disease that results from an abnormal reaction of the immune system to common substances. In humans, symptoms normally include sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Dogs and cats commonly will lick and scratch, causing skin irritations and hair loss, and/or have frequent skin and ear infections. Although not life threatening, the symptoms may make your pet very uncomfortable.

Dr. Jeanne Budgin, veterinary dermatologist at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, says skin disorders are among the most common reasons for visits to the vet. “Many skin disorders are a result of allergies,” says Dr. Budgin. “It’s extremely important for the comfort and health of your pet to determine the source of the allergy and treat it appropriately.” In fact, simply inhaling, ingesting or having physical contact with an allergen may cause a reaction in an allergic dog or cat.

Some common causes of allergic reactions in pets include:

  • Flea allergies are the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. The incidence of flea allergy increases in the spring and summer months, and if an animal is allergic to fleas, one bite may cause itching for up to three weeks.
  • Foods can also trigger allergies and skin disorders in pets. The symptoms are usually skin related, but may include intestinal signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergy may exist alone or in combination with other types of allergy.
  • Allergies associated with molds, pollens, house dust mites and other offending substances (allergens) cause a condition called “atopy,” an airborne allergy which results in rashes that cause itching and may affect animals.
  • Tree pollens and grasses: Tree pollens cause most allergy symptoms. Grasses emerge with spring as tree pollens diminish. At present, oak and grass are the major pollens present in the environment. And while many feel protected from pollens, it is important to remember that pollens may travel many miles.

If you think that your dog or cat may have allergies, talk to your veterinarian and discuss having your pet tested and treated. Check back often for more information on how to take care of your pets this summer.

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