If you're like us, when March comes around, it's time to fetch the antihistamines. Allergy season can be the bane of the warmer months. Did you know that it's the same for our pets too? Yes, even our loyal companions can suffer from allergic reactions. They can come from all sorts of places, both inside the house and out in the wider world. But why do pets get allergies, and are their allergies hereditary? Read on, and we'll tell you everything you need to know to become a pet-allergy expert!
What Are Pet Allergies?
Wherever you look, potential allergens can be lurking. You'll find them in your food, floating through the air, and even from the plants that oxygenate our planet. As our furry friends share the same space as us, they are likely to come into contact with these very same allergens. Even if they're more likely to go digging their nose in the garden, or hopping around to places unseen by most people.
However, as you may know, not all humans suffer from allergic reactions. It's the same with pets too. While some will go their entire lives free from the runny noses and itchiness allergens can cause, others will have one or more allergies from birth. If you're concerned that your pet has allergies, there are a few tell-tale signs you should look out for. These include:
- Coughing, sneezing and wheezing
- Itched-away fur and red skin
- If they chew on one area of their body more than others
- For cats, vomiting and diarrhoea
The good news is that allergies tend to have pretty minor symptoms and are more irritating than anything. However, they can lead to long term breathing issues and other more serious conditions later in life if left untreated. That's why, as soon as you spot any of the above signs, you should see a vet asap. They'll know which treatments will work best for each allergen.
What Causes Allergic Reactions in Pets?
Since pets suffer allergic reactions to the same allergies as people, there are some obvious ones to look out for. Food, pollen and other pollutants in the air, and even plants and grass can cause them. More specific to pets are fleas, mites and other parasites they can come into contact with on their many misadventures.
Your vet will likely conduct one of two tests to pinpoint the allergen culprit. There's an intradermal test, which involves shaving your pet's fur and using multiple needles to test different allergens on the skin. Or there's a blood test, which isolates allergens in the blood. While the blood test is the quickest and easiest test, many vets swear by skin testing. You should be aware, however, that only a vet dermatologist can conduct a skin test. And as your pet's fur will need to be shaved, they will need to be anaesthetised beforehand.
Are Allergies Hereditary?
Sadly, yes, allergies are often hereditary. That means, in layman's terms, that they can be passed from parent to child. However, that doesn't mean that your pet's allergies were definitely passed down. Some parents can have allergies while their children have none. It's also worth noting that, while allergies can be hereditary, it doesn't mean that specific allergies are passed down. Instead, a parent with allergies is more likely to pass the likelihood of having an allergy, rather than say, a pollen allergy.
So, while you can look to your pet's parents for historical information regarding allergies, it shouldn't be taken as gospel.