Pet Allergy Awareness Month: Dog and Cat Allergies

mount carmel animal hospital dog and cat allergies

Mount Carmel Animal Hospital informs readers about dog and cat allergies and what pet owners can do.

Dogs and cats often experience allergies to grasses, mold, pollen, and dust, just as humans do. Unlike humans, our pets don’t always experience runny noses or watery eyes; they experience hair loss, itchy skin and feet, and recurring ear infections. In honor of Allergy Awareness Month, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital informs readers about dog and cat allergies and what pet owners can do.

What Are Allergies?

Many people struggle with allergies this time of year. However, it’s not only people who suffer. Pollen, dust, and other environmental allergens impact many pets too. The immune system normally protects your dog or cat against infection and disease, but the immune response can harm the body when it reacts to something that does not pose a threat, creating allergies.

Different Types of Allergies

Pets can experience different allergies to different things. Some examples of classifying dog and cat allergies include:

  • The allergen such as food or flea allergy
  • The route on how the allergen enters the body: skin contact, inhalant, or food allergy
  • The time it takes for the body to react: immediate-type hypersensitivity and delayed-type hypersensitivity
  • Clinical signs include the areas of the body the allergen affects
  • Inherited forms include atopy or seasonal allergies


Since it’s Allergy Awareness Month, let’s explore the symptoms of dog and cat allergies:


Dogs commonly experience itchy skin in one area or all over the body. Dogs with allergies will especially be itchy on their feet, causing them to lick and chew at them excessively. They may also rub their face on things to try to alleviate the itch. Dogs with allergies can also experience ear infections and sometimes have issues with their anal glands. In other cases, allergies affect their digestive system, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting.


A prevalent manifestation of cat allergy is itching skin in one area or all over the body. Another manifestation involves the respiratory system, resulting in sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. Sometimes, there might be an ocular or nasal discharge. The last manifestation is the cat’s digestive system, resulting in flatulence, vomiting, or diarrhea.


Insect Allergies

An insect bite allergy is the exaggerated inflammatory response to the sting or bite of an insect – spiders, ticks, fleas, horseflies, ants, bees, mosquitos, wasps, and hornets. Flea saliva is the most prevalent insect allergen in dogs and cats. Since one flea can be problematic for a dog or cat with flea allergy dermatitis, the most essential treatment is to prevent fleabites. Strict flea control is the foundation of a successful treatment. Bravecto protects dogs from fleas and several ticks for 12 weeks. NexGard Combo is a monthly topical that protects cats from fleas, ticks, and internal parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms as well as heartworm disease.

Food Allergy

Food allergies in cats and dogs are caused by an immune reaction to any protein or carbohydrate part of food. For dogs, an allergy commonly develops in response to the protein within the food: chicken, beef, eggs, soy, and dairy products. Vegetable proteins and food additives might cause cat food allergies in some cases.

The treatment requires identifying the offending components of the diet and removing them. This can be accomplished quickly through food allergy testing or through what is known as a food elimination trial. With a food trial, your pet will be placed on a prescription diet with a novel or hydrolyzed protein. Since it takes at least eight weeks for the other food products to be eliminated from the body, your pet must eat the special diet exclusively for those weeks.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, or atopy, generally refers to being allergic to environmental allergens such as grasses, molds, pollens, mildew, and house dust mites. Many of these allergies occur seasonally. However, others are always with us, like mold and house dust mites. Cats primarily react to atopy with severe, generalized itching. Dogs manifest atopic dermatitis with itchy skin, or your dog might rub his or her face, lick his or her feet, and scratch the underarms. Since you cannot remove the allergen in these cases, they need to be managed long-term with medication. Your pet will be placed on medication that will help alleviate the symptoms by blocking the biological pathway that leads to itchiness. For dogs, Cytotpoint can be administered as a monthly injection.

Contact Allergy

A contact allergy is the least common allergy type in dogs and cats. It results from direct contact with allergens found in pesticides, materials, grasses, or wool used in carpets or bedding. Eliminating the allergen often solves the problem, and topical or systemic treatments might be another option.

Lastly, the symptoms of allergies can be confused with other disorders. Therefore, make sure you consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Celebrate Allergy Awareness Month by taking your pet to Mount Carmel Animal Hospital for a pet wellness exam!


Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook

This entry was posted on Friday, May 10th, 2024 at 9:17 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.