When your pet scratches, bites or chews excessively, chances are she is suffering from an allergy. The cause of the allergy, or the allergen, could be virtually anything in the pet's environment. Identifying the allergen requires teamwork between you and your veterinarian.
There are many types of allergies:
• Bites and stings: Fleas are usually the culprit, but an allergic reaction can also be caused by various external parasites and insects.
• Inhalant allergies: These result from breathing in substances such as pollen, ragweed, household dust and mold.
• Contact allergies: Usually caused by a pet's physical contact with an offending substance. Among the most common allergens are soaps, insecticides, carpets, poison ivy, oak and grass.
• Food allergies: A food allergy results from an abnormal immune reaction to an ingredient found in a pet food. Food allergies usually appear as skin problems or gastrointestinal upsets.
For any allergy, once a tentative diagnosis is made, treatment can be started. The goal of the treatment is to control the symptoms by avoiding the cause of the allergy. If avoidance is not possible, medication or a series of injections may be beneficial.
• Find out when scratching means allergies
• Learn how allergies can affect your pet's behavior
• Does constant foot licking equal allergies?
• Learn why your pet's eyes are tearing and when to visit the vet
• 8 ways to help an allergy-prone pet
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• Dogs' Health Issues message board