Pet Allergies

When a pet scratches, bites or chews excessively, chances are it is suffering from an allergy. The cause of the allergy, termed an allergen, could be virtually anything in a pet's environment. In some instances, a highly allergic pet may have several allergies simultaneously. Identifying the cause of the allergy requires teamwork between the pet owner and the veterinarian. The same teamwork is needed to control the allergy.

The most common allergy affecting dogs and cats is flea bite allergy. It occurs when a dog or cat is exposed to flea saliva at the time of a flea bite.

Controlling fleas in a pet's environment is the obvious treatment for flea bite allergy. To do this, both the pet and its environment should be treated. Flea collars provide a small measure of relief. However, some pets are allergic to the collars. Flea powders, sprays, shampoos and dips can help rid pets of fleas. Always read and follow label directions. Excessive use of any of these products may be hazardous for an individual pet. A veterinarian often prescribes drugs that kill fleas or break the parasite's life cycle.

A word of caution to cat owners: Be certain the label states the product is safe for cats. Some products that are safe for use on dogs are toxic to cats.

Because fleas spend most of their life cycle off a dog or cat, outdoor areas frequented by fleas should be treated with sprays or foggers. To help control flea infestation within the house, thorough cleaning and vacuuming is needed. A professional exterminator may be necessary to control heavy infestations.

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