In Florida’s humid, subtropical climate, there are a number of issues to be on the lookout for when it comes to your pet’s well being. One you may not consider as much as others – Allergies. Yes, pets get them too, and yes, it can become a problem if you’re not on the lookout for symptoms to keep your little guys healthy and happy. Unlike states that get more variety in their seasons, Florida pet owners should constantly be on the lookout for signs of a more serious issue, especially when potential symptoms can’t be chalked up to being seasonal inhalant allergies. But how do you know it isn’t just a case of the sniffles?
If you aren’t sure whether your pet has a cold or is suffering from more serious and persistent allergies, look out for some of the most common signs; excessive scratching, chewing or licking can be an indicator of fleas (side note: a flea allergy is also something to be on the lookout for, so be aware), but if it’s combined with any other symptoms, talk to your veterinarian. Other symptoms include the obvious, such as coughing, wheezing and sneezing, but can also include everything from hair loss, raw or inflamed skin areas, foot licking and chewing, and pawing at their ears (recurring ear infections are a common sign as well, so take them in for frequent checkups!).
So, you’ve identified your pet’s allergy problem. Now what? You should immediately schedule an appointment and allergy evaluation. Treatment depends on the type of allergy, and with pets, there are a few different categories these can fall into:
Aside from symptoms like skin problems or ear infections, animals suffering from food allergies may have diarrhea; it’s not pretty, but is one of the best indicators that they are sensitive or allergic to the protein in their food. Simply changing up your cat or dog’s pet food brand may not be enough to stop the allergy, however, but there is an easy solution to these types of allergies. A visit to the vet and a period of observation under a specially prescribed diet will usually do the trick.
Just as some people are allergic to latex, animals can be allergic to certain surface substances. Something as small as the fibers in their favorite dog blanket or the plastic in the cat’s drinking bowl can cause irritation. Contact allergies are some of the easiest to treat, as the irritant in question just needs to be removed, but identifying the irritant can take a lot of time and observation.
Fleas are a constant problem in a warmer environments, so a flea allergy is something to constantly be on the lookout for. Flea saliva is incredibly allergenic and animals with any type of allergies are 75-90% more likely to be affected by these flea allergens. A major indicator of a flea allergy: look where your pet is scratching. If they are itching mostly over the back half of their body (like their tail and hindquarters), look into upping your flea control game and consult your local vet.
Pets in Florida aren’t typically subjected to what we call seasonal allergies (it’s more year-round in this climate), but they can become prone to allergies from pollen, dust mites, mold and mildew. Next to flea allergies, inhalant allergies are the most commonly diagnosed and are usually exhibited with skin and ear itching as well as coughing and sneezing. To identify inhalant allergies, your pet will need to undergo skin or blood tests, but treatment is generally easy to apply once correctly identified.