What Do We Need to Know About Allergies and Our Pets?

The Vet Scoop Team

In our latest VetScoop video, boarded Veterinary Dermatologist Dr. Ashley Bourgeois tells us all about the importance of knowing the signs of allergies in our pets, how we can identify them, and why it is is important that we treat these allergies.

Dr. Ashley Bourgeois on Allergies in Dogs:

I think it’s always really important, even if signs are mild to mention it to your veterinarian. So even if you’re just there with your annual wellness exam, just making sure it’s on their radar, like, oh, I think my dog licks her paws a little bit, but I don’t know if it’s that bad. First of all, there’s lots of mild things we can do. Certain topical products, just bathing doesn’t mean we have to throw them on medications. There’s nutritional support. So there’s diets that can help these mildly allergic dogs. But one thing we can see is progression. So it started out really mild, but as they get older it gets a lot worse. So I think making sure everyone’s on the same team is important.

Dr. Ashley Bourgeois on Allergies in Cats:

Cat’s always like to keep things interesting. They do not like to follow the rule book. They kind of like to create their own rules. And to be honest, they can be a bit more difficult as far as really knowing that something’s a problem. Cats tend to be more isolated creatures. So where dogs will lay by our feet and lick and chew and slurp and you can really pick up that they’re itchy counts, cats a lot of times do these behaviors away from us. They’re also really unique in how they show us their allergies. So a classic cat will overgroom, which is really hard to identify because cats by nature are groomers. They do groom. So to know if a cat is doing it excessively can be really, really difficult. You know, some hints we’ll be seeing are baldness on the belly. But a normal grooming cat really shouldn’t cause hair loss. It should be something they’re just doing to clean themselves.

It shouldn’t actually cause hair loss, but sometimes you’ll see excessive hairballs. So we’re not actually seeing cats lick and chew because they’re doing it under the bed or they’re doing it away from us. But they’ll lick and chew excessively to the point where they create a lot of hairballs. If you have two cats or three cats or more, it can be helpful cause you can kind of compare behaviors. So does one cat have a bald belly? Is one cat always grooming themselves and it’s actually a little bit more excessive? So that can be helpful too. But cats, they can, they absolutely can be a bit more difficult to truly see the behavior, but you can pick up on some of those patterns. You can get things like head scratching, head shaking, neck scratching. If you’re starting to see what we call excoriations or which would be scratch marks around their ears, on their face, that can also be a sign for us, that cats are itchy as well.