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Five Common Pet Allergens

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What are Dogs and Cats Allergic To?

No one enjoys allergies; least of all the person who is suffering from them. But did you know that your pets suffer from allergies too? In fact, according to Dr. Joel Griffies, a board certified veterinary dermatologist in Marietta, Georgia, dogs and cats are affected by many of the same allergens that affect people. Often dogs and cats with allergies succumb to the allergens found in their region, but there are some common ones that are found almost anywhere in the country. Here are five common allergens that may be affecting your dog or cat.

1. House Dust Mites

It should come as no surprise that the #1 cause of allergy and asthma in people affects our pets, too. Feeding off the shed skin of humans and dander of pets, dust mites are very small in size (250 to 300 microns in length). Despite their size, house dust mites can wreak havoc on your dog or cat's immune system, causing an allergic reaction that often displays as atopic dermatitis.

2. Pollens

Dogs and cats can be allergic to all types of pollens — pollens from trees, weeds, plants, or grasses. You can limit your pets' exposure to the pollens in your area by keeping them indoors during peak seasons, especially when there are reports of a high pollen count, which tends to be during the fall and spring.

3. Molds

Molds are somewhat regional, but if they are in your area, watch out! Some molds cause just mild allergic reactions in dogs and cats, while others like Stachybotros and Blastomyces dermatitidis can be deadly for your pet. Mold grows wherever and whenever there is moisture, so keep the humidity in your home low, fix any leaks, and pay attention if your pet frequents dark and/or damp areas — either indoors or outdoors.

4. Fleas

Flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in pets. Flea allergies usually develop when the dog or cat is young (less than one and up to five years of age), but it can begin at any age. Frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and scabs are telltale signs of flea allergies in pets.

5. Insects

While fleas are the common culprit when it comes to allergies involving insects, some pets also develop allergic reactions to other insects, including mosquitoes, ants, and cockroaches. And just like people, it is the proteins contained in the saliva or venom of the biting insects that causes the allergic reaction. A reaction may display itself as inflamed skin, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.

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