dog and cat allergies

Dog Allergies: Food vs. Environmental

by Sam Salvati - 08/18/20

It is common to find food and environmental allergies in dogs. They share similar symptoms but require different treatment - here’s a guide to both types.

Cat and Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Dog food allergies can develop at any age but are most commonly discovered before your pup turns one. Common dog food allergies include reactions to substances that contain meat, dairy, and fish.

Some signs of food allergies in dogs include scaly or red skin, itchiness, and stomach upset. Cat food allergy symptoms include hair loss and intense itchiness around the head and neck.

Food Allergy Treatment and Diagnosis

The best method of food allergy diagnosis is a food elimination trial. In this 3 month trial, the pet is fed only food to which they have not eaten before. These trials must only consist of the included foods and can be prescribed by your veterinarian.

After the trial, have your pet go back to his old diet. If he continues to have allergic reactions, you'll know the allergy is to something in his old diet. Your pet can then return to his elimination diet, with the old foods being added slowly until the allergen is determined.

Unfortunately, the only method of food allergy treatment is avoiding the foods to which your pet has an allergic reaction.

Environmental Allergy Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Common environmental allergies in dogs and cats include reactions to grass and pollen. This chronic reaction is called atopic dermatitis (AD). AD is most commonly discovered in your pet's first 3-6 months. At first, you may confuse AD with hay fever due to the initial seasonality of AD. However, AD quickly becomes non-seasonal.

Itchiness is the primary symptom of AD. If you don't manage the itchiness, it can lead to serious and permanent skin problems.

Environmental Allergy Treatment and Diagnosis

In order to diagnose AD, you must first eliminate food and flea allergies. Then, vets often recommend either intradermal testing or blood sampling.

Although AD is incurable, allergy immunotherapy is a reliable way to manage the symptoms. Other management methods include avoiding the allergen as best as possible or using topical medication.

Before taking action on your pet's AD symptoms, talk to your vet for his or her advice.

Pasadena native Sam Salvati is the adoring dog dad to Pablo, Ester and Farris. He enjoys keeping abreast of and writing about the latest developments in pet care.