Allergies can vary in severity and cause various symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance by producing antibodies. These antibodies identify a particular allergen as harmful, even when it isn’t. Allergies can cause reactions in the skin, breathing passages and digestive system.
Thousands of people experience allergies to foods, pets and environmental factors. Pets also can be susceptible to allergies. Allergies can be found in cats and dogs, according to PetMD. They also may be present in other animals. People who notice their companion animals scratching, chewing or licking themselves more than normal may find their pets have allergies. Some pets may experience gastrointestinal issues as well.
The pet care information site Pet Cube says common allergens for pets can include:
• pollen from trees, grass and weeds
• food ingredients
• dust mites
• prescription medications
• flea/tick control products
• cleaning products
While their human friends may get runny noses or coughs from allergies, symptoms of allergies in cats and dogs tend to take the form of skin irritation, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis. Pet parents should look for the presence of red and irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and rashes or hives, in addition to extensive itching or obsessive licking.
Flea allergies are one of the most common sources of allergies for pets. The bite of just one or two fleas per week is enough to cause a reaction. A pet gnawing just at the base of the tail may be suffering from fleas, although other areas may be affected, advises PetMD.
Seasonal and environmental allergies or allergies to foods can result in face rubbing and licking, especially the paws. Skin or ear infections also may occur.
Pets also may be allergic to one another. According to veterinarian Dr. Robert Trimble, co-founder of the San Franciscobased Fuzzy Pet Health, says he’s heard of dogs being allergic to cats and vice versa.
Pets groom themselves to stay clean, but when allergies are present, dogs and cats may spend extended periods of time scratching, licking and biting. While these actions can be problematic for the animals themselves, for those sensitive to sounds, the repetition may induce unsettled feelings.
Psychology Today says “misphonia” is an extreme emotional and physical response to seemingly innocuous, repetitive sounds. While chewing and lip-smacking are common triggers, noises made by pets (like barking or licking) also can cause an issue. The result is a fight-orflight response to these noises, along with physical tension, disproportionate anger and possible hatred or disgust toward the person or animal responsible for the trigger noise.
While studies into misphonia are in their juvenile stages and only recently gained traction, symptoms are thought to begin in childhood or adolescence and increase in severity. Treatment for misphonia is varied, but if aversion to the noise a pet is making can be alleviated by addressing the pet’s underlying issue, then people’s misphonia may be alleviated as well.
The American Kennel Club urges pet parents to seek help if their pets seem to be itchy all the time. Allowing a pet to scratch or lick for extended periods of time may lead to skin infections with bacteria or yeast. While all allergies cannot be tested, elimination diets and other techniques may help pinpoint sources of allergies. It is essential to speak with a vet to determine how to relieve allergies to help pets feel more comfortable.