Just like humans, pets can have allergies -- and they can develop at any age. The most common allergies veterinarians see are atopy (which is often seasonal and caused by something in a pet’s environment), food allergies, and contact dermatitis.
If you notice your pet licking and scratching certain areas (such as their toes, ears, and face), it might be a sign that they have an allergy and should be checked out by a vet.
It goes without saying that we want the best for our pets. But sometimes, allergies in cats and dogs can be exacerbated by factors that are within our control, such as a nutrition. According to Will Post, founder and CEO of Hound & Gatos Pet Foods Corporation, many well-meaning pet parents fail to notice ingredients or materials that can actually make pets' allergies worse.
“If you have a pet with allergies it is important to pay close attention to both their food and things in their environment,” explains Post, adding that it’s important for pet owners to recognize and avoid possible allergy triggers.
Bringing pets relief
To minimize the risk of aggravating pets' allergies, it’s crucial to know what to look for and what to avoid in your dog or cat's food, toys, and environment. Bringing pets relief from their allergy symptoms could mean changing things up in the following categories:
- Food. “Feeding them well is going to go a long way toward helping their allergies to improve,” says Post, who explains that healing the gut is the first step toward helping the body fix itself. Certain ingredients in pet food, such as corn, wheat, fillers, gravies, and preservatives should be avoided. Pets with allergies should be eating wholesome foods that are made of just meat. Posts notes that it’s also important to know about the meat: what type it is and where it was sourced.
- Toys and bedding. Certain materials in toys and bedding can also make allergies worse. Plastic should be avoided as much as possible, says Post.
- Environmental factors. Certain materials in the environment can also trigger allergic reactions. Trees, grass, weed pollens, mold spores, and dust mites are a few of the more common environmental allergens. If dust is the culprit, WebMD recommends cleaning pets bedding, dusting, and vacuuming at least twice a week. Weekly bathing can also help remove allergens.
What to do
Other signs that your pet may have allergies include ear problems, skin rash, face rubbing, paw biting, and sometimes vomiting.
If you suspect your pet has an allergy, consult a veterinarian. For food allergies, vets may recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet. If environmental factors or airborne allergens are causing allergic reactions, your vet may recommend medications or supplements.