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Paw Prints: Determine the source of your pet’s allergy for good health

Many of us suffer from allergy symptoms during spring and summer. Anyone who has experienced watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing is aware of the discomforts of allergies. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that about one out of every five dogs in the U.S. also suffers from allergies. 

Just what is an allergy? It is a disease that develops from a reaction of the immune system to a substance. Cats and dogs will react by licking and scratching, which ultimately causes a skin infection or irritation, hair loss and/or ear infection. Allergies are not life-threatening, but the symptoms can be uncomfortable for your pet.

According to Dr. Jeanne Budgin, ASPCA veterinary dermatologist at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, “It’s extremely important for the comfort and health of your pet to determine the source of the allergy and treat it appropriately.” 

A dog or cat can have a reaction to an allergen from inhaling, ingesting or physical contact. An allergy to fleas is the most common allergy in cats and dogs. One flea bite can cause itching for up to three weeks.

Allergies and skin disorders also can be caused from poor nutrition or foods. Although symptoms are usually related to the skin, some may include intestinal disorders with vomiting and diarrhea. Allergies related to food may be in combination to other allergies. Molds, pollens, house dust mites and other allergens can cause airborne allergies which can cause itchy rashes that may affect your pet. 

Some allergy symptoms are caused by tree pollens, with grass allergies emerging as tree pollens diminish. Currently, oak and grass are the main pollens in the environment that have the potential to travel several miles.

Dr. Autumn Drouin, a veternarian, recommends to first rule out skin parasites such as mites, fleas, ringworm (fungus) and any general diseases. Look at your pet’s environment when considering allergens and irritants (pollens, plastics, nylon, wool, pesticides, chemicals, etc.).  Drouin also stresses the importance of a good diet in order to support the immune system. 

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