Just like humans, dogs and cats can be affected by environmental allergy conditions that can make them miserable all season long. Pollen and grass are common seasonal allergens for dogs and cats. Dogs and cats may also experience allergies to non-seasonal elements in their environment. This can include dust, certain types of food, medications, or common chemicals used in household cleaning products. You can manage these allergies with some simple swaps based on recommendations from your vet.
Allergies in dogs and cats tend to be genetic, and certain breeds may be more susceptible to allergies than others. Flat-faced dog and cat breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats may develop seasonal allergies due to their narrow nasal passages and windpipes. Food allergies are also common. Learn how to cultivate healthy eating habits for your pets.
How do you know if your dog or cat has allergies?
If you notice anything off with your pet’s behavior or personality, allergies may be the culprit. Keep an eye out for these five signs that may indicate your pet is suffering from allergies.
Itching is the first sign of allergies in dogs and cats. Pets will tend to lick, chew, and scratch themselves and rub on the carpet, furniture, or grass to “scratch the itch.” Pets will often lose their hair and develop red skin, bumps, crusts, and even pus-filled pimples due to the irritation. Excessive scratching can break the skin and cause a bacterial infection.
2. Red, watery eyes
Many pet owners may notice their pets have red, watery, or itchy eyes. Dust, pollen, dander, and other allergens floating in the air can irritate the sensitive conjunctiva tissue (the white part of the eye). Typically, allergies are worse in the spring and fall. In warm climates, allergies can persist year-round. Pets often find relief by rubbing their face on the carpet, furniture, or floor or by scratching and pawing at their eyes.
3. Paw licking
If your pet has allergies, you’ve probably seen them licking or chewing at their feet. This is a common sign of environmental allergies. Paw licking occurs because pollen, dust, and other allergens stick to the fur and skin, causing irritation and itching. Your pet’s paws are constantly in contact with grass and pollen as they walk outside through the yard, dog park, or even down the sidewalk.
As a result, pets with allergies tend to have the most itch on their feet, leading to excessive licking and chewing. When saliva mixes with bacteria on the skin, it can cause brown discoloration or “bronzing” on the fur or on the feet — a telltale sign of allergies.
4. Ear infections
If your dog or cat is always getting ear infections, they may have allergies. Head shaking, scratching at ears, or holding one ear up or down in an unusual way, are signs of ear infections. Brown, black, or yellow debris in the ear canal and a foul smell are other indications of infection.
5. Sneezing and “reverse sneezing”
Like people, dogs and cats can have allergy-induced sneezing fits. Dogs often experience a “reverse sneeze” in the spring and summer. This is caused by irritation in the sinuses and appears as though the dog is having a hard time inhaling in through the nose.
Although reverse sneezing is usually harmless, it can often be scary for pet owners. If your pet is experiencing sneezing or any discharge from the nose, take it to the vet, who can prescribe proper medications to control the allergies and any secondary sinus infections.
Tips for treating pet allergies
Medications are available to reduce allergy symptoms and can make a big difference in keeping your pet happy and healthy.
Depending on the type of cat or dog allergies , and the type of plan you have, allergy medications prescribed by your vet may be partially or fully covered by pet insurance. Allergies aside, pet insurance can help dog and cat owners with unexpected expenses. You never know when something might go wrong and having insurance coverage can help if your pet ever needs medical attention.
Get a free quote through Progressive with Pets Best for dog insurance or cat insurance. If you have multiple pets in your household, you may be able to bundle their policies together and save some money with an insurance policy for multiple pets. Several policy types are available — determine which pet insurance coverage is right for you and your pet based on factors like age and breed.