What Are Pet Allergies?
Our world is full of potential allergens. They can be found in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the flora and fauna that we come into contact with every day. It's much the same for our pets too. We all know how inquisitive our furry friends can be, whether they're indoor cats or dogs exploring every nook and cranny of a flower bed. Inevitably, they come into contact with a number of these lingering allergens.
Of course, not every pet will have an allergic reaction to some of these allergens. In fact, some won't have any allergies at all! However, some inevitably will, and it's important you spot the signs early. Here's what you need to look for:
- Excessive sneezing
- Persistent scratching, or rubbing against furniture
- Irritated skin or a loss of fur
- Regular chewing on a specific body part or area
- Coughing and wheezing
- Head shaking, vomiting, diarrhoea and bloating, specifically in cats
While allergies aren't usually fatal, they can lead to long-lasting respiratory issues and other niggling conditions. As such, it's important to take them to the vet as soon as they start showing signs of an allergic reaction. That way, you can determine what's causing them, treat them early, and ensure they're living their best life as soon as possible.
What Causes Allergic Reactions in Pets?
Pets often suffer allergic reactions to the same allergies as their owners. These are typically caused by the following:
- Contact with grass, dust mites, plants and other environmental allergens
- Inhalants like pollen
There are a couple of tests your vet will likely recommend to work out which of these is the culprit. First, there's a blood test. RAST, or radioallergosorbent test, which works by analysing a blood sample taken from your pet to determine which allergens are causing issues. Secondly, there's a skin test, called an intradermal test. This involves shaving an area of your dog or cat's skin and using multiple injections to determine which allergens are giving them an allergic reaction.
Each has its pros and cons. So, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best method for your pet. While a blood sample is a relatively painless procedure that doesn't require anaesthetic, intradermal testing is widely considered to be the best test available. However, it requires a veterinarian dermatologist to undertake, and your pet will need to be sedated to perform it.
Are Allergies Contagious?
So, now you know the cause of allergies and the possible treatments, you might want to know - are allergies contagious? The good news is that no, allergies are not contagious at all. That works both ways, from human to pet and vice versa. So why do we, and they, sneeze and cough like we have a cold? Well, that's because of our immune system.
When allergens enter our body, our immune system can mistake them for invaders. In this case, germs, bacteria or viruses that the immune system is designed to stop. In turn, our bodies release histamine, a naturally occurring compound that causes sneezing, coughing, and nasal congestion. These reactions are designed to prevent any other potential invaders from entering our bodies, all while our immune system deals with the 'germs' inside.
And that's it! No need to worry about catching allergies from your trusty buddies. However, make sure you take your pet to the vet as soon as they start showing symptoms. Not just because of the reasons outlined earlier, but because it could be caused by something that most certainly can affect unknowing owners like you.
Fleas and other Parasites
Yes, some of the symptoms synonymous with allergies can be caused by fleas, ticks, and other pesky parasites. These little nasties nestle in your pet's hair, living off their blood like tiny, irritating vampires. And while dog and cat fleas don't much like the taste of human blood, they'll happily give you a nasty bite if they have the opportunity. To get rid of them, a vet will likely recommend a powder or shampoo.
In that case, why not try Flea & Tick Defence Powder, or Flea & Tick Shampoo? Both use naturally sourced ingredients to help get rid of fleas and protect your furry friends from future infestations without the need for harmful chemicals.
So, are allergies contagious? No. And now you know a little more about allergens and how to tell when your pet is suffering, you should be more than prepared to help if and when they strike.