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Spotting allergies in dogs and cats

Just like people, dogs and cats can have or develop allergies at any time in their lives. Unfortunately, allergies are quite common in dogs and cats of all breeds and backgrounds. Most allergies appear after the pet is six months of age, with the majority over age one or two.

Did you notice that your pet is frequently chewing or licking their feet or rubbing or shaking their ears, biting at their tail base or scooting? These can all be the symptoms of allergic reaction.

In more severe cases hair loss, repeated ear and skin infections can be seen. Sneezing and runny nose is mainly seen in cats.

Unfortunately, we are unable to completely cure allergies in pets. We, therefore, focus on maximizing your understanding of what is causing the problem in order to minimize any symptoms and keep your pet as comfortable as possible (and in particular—reduce the itch!)

Why allergy occurs? Allergies in dogs and cats occur when the immune system overreacts to something that isn’t really a threat. For example, reacting to food, airborne pollen or laundry detergent—none of which should cause harm. Small food or environmental particles that are causing the allergies are named allergens. It helps to group antigens into three categories and to realize that your pet can be allergic to materials from more than one category:

  • What your pet eats (foods, additives, preservatives, dyes, food storage mites)
  • What your pet breathes in (cigarette smoke, pollens, perfumes, particles released from carpet underlays, cat dander, decks treated with a preservative)
  • What your pet’s skin comes into contact with (dust mites, fleas, soaps, wool)

The most common allergies in Vietnam, from my personal experience at the animal practice, are environmental and food allergies. When we are talking about cats, the most common reason for reaction are insect bites, like fleas, ticks or beetles. That’s why you need to make sure that your pet is up-to-date with external parasite prevention.

What to do if you suspect your pet has an allergy?

Any kind of skin irritation, hair loss, runny nose, painful ears, frequent head tilting is definitely sign to seek professional help for your pet. Depends on the type of allergy, your veterinarian will choose the treatment that suits your pet the best.

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