Allergy is a disease in which the immune system reacts excessively to certain substances, causing a physical reaction which is unpleasant and sometimes very serious.

Although we often hear about allergies in relation to humans, pets are equally susceptible.

Starting from scratch

Although the signs and symptoms of allergies are usually easy to see, identifying the root cause can take time and patience. Talking to your vet is the best way to begin figuring out the cause of your pet’s discomfort. And although there is no way to cure an allergy, treatment to prevent or minimise the effects and provide your pet with relief is possible.

Identifying the itch – the top three causes of allergies in pets

1. Two’s company, fleas a crowd

If you’ve noticed fleas on your pet, the chances are that both they and your home are already infested. Fleas are one of the most common external parasites and it’s the proteins in their saliva that can cause an allergic reaction in some pets. Fleas aren’t just a summer problem, they’re active all year round. However, with a monthly application of a suitable parasite prevention treatment, it’s easy to stop them from becoming an issue.

2. Food allergies. Not as common as you think

Despite common belief, food allergies in pets are quite unusual, with the Banfield State of Pet Health Report 20181 showing that food allergies are only seen in 0.2% of dogs and 0.1 % of cats. Allergies to protein sources such as chicken, beef or dairy are also far more likely than allergies to grain. Pets that do have food allergies are likely to suffer from other allergic skin conditions as well, which can make identifying a food allergy particularly challenging.

Unfortunately, there are no simple quick-fixes when it comes to treating a food allergy. So, it’s important to work closely with your vet who can arrange the necessary tests to narrow down the cause of your pet’s discomfort and prescribe a tailored trial diet plan.

3. Home sweet home

Many of the same environmental allergens that affect people can affect pets. Pollen, for example. Not all environmental allergens are seasonal though and many can be found inside your home; dust mites, fabrics and cleaning solutions are all common culprits and difficult to avoid in most houses.

Like food allergies, environmental allergies can be difficult to identify and often require long-term management. However, regular visits to the vet for appropriate advice and testing can help reduce the risk of more severe skin problems developing.

A pet health plan covers the cost of preventive treatments like monthly parasite products and regular check-ups.