Signs Your Pet May Suffer from Allergies

If you spend much of this season and beyond sneezing, take a little comfort in the fact that you definitely aren’t the only person on the planet who suffers from allergies.


Actually, go ahead and look for some sympathy at your feet, because your pet may be able to relate. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, 1 in 28 dogs and 1 in 259 cats seen there nationwide are diagnosed with environmental allergies, and — gesundheit! — the proportion of pets diagnosed with environmental allergies has increased over the last 10 years. 


Here’s a virtual hug headed your way this May, which is officially known as asthma and allergy awareness month for pets: there is hope for both of your allergy symptoms. 


“Just like with people, medication options exist that can reduce the allergic reaction (e.g., diphenhydramine) and/or alleviate itchiness in pets,” says Dr. Emi Saito, a veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital. “Pet owners also have the option to test their pets for allergies to help determine what the pet is allergic to, then have ‘allergy shots’ formulated specific to a pet’s allergy.”


It’s imperative, Saito explains, for pet owners to partner with their veterinarian to obtain the proper diagnosis and identify the appropriate treatment plan. 


Read on for signs that your furry BFF may have allergies, too.


Asthma. According to PetMd, cats are much more susceptible to asthma than dogs and small dogs are more vulnerable than larger breeds to asthma, the inflammation of the airways that make breathing difficult — a scary thing for animals and their owners. Signs of asthma can include shortness of breath, open-mouth breathing, noticeable attempts to inhale, coughing and/or wheezing.


Environmental allergies. You always knew that you and your pet were soulmates! So it makes complete sense that things you’re allergic to — grass, mold, pollen, dust mites — could also aggravate your pet’s allergies. Saito says that signs of allergies can include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, hives and/or swelling on the body. To determine what’s troubling your pet, your veterinarian could perform allergy testing which would aid in developing a vaccine for him or her, or prescribe antihistamine therapy, click here to learn more.


Allergic dermatitis. Besides fetch and eating, is one of your dog’s main activities itching? There are many causes of this allergic skin disease which Banfield says is similar to “hay fever” in humans, except that it causes skin irritation instead of the sinus issues (sniff, sniff) that humans face. When your pet comes in contact with allergens — like weeds, trees, household cleaners, just to name a few — itching may ensue. Signs of allergic dermatitis can include severe itching, rashes, paw chewing and/or skin inflammation, Saito says. 


Food allergies. You probably have a list of foods that don’t agree with you — and your pet could, too. If you think your pet’s food is causing an allergic reaction, Banfield suggests asking your veterinarian to perform a diet trial to determine if your pet is having an adverse reaction to certain food ingredients.  Some dogs may be more sensitive to beef, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, fish, dairy products, corn, wheat, and soy. Beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy, diary products and wheat gluten can cause allergic reactions in cats. Signs of food allergies are not as common as skin manifestation, Saito says, but can include vomiting and diarrhea.


For more about pets with allergies, visit Banfield’s website. 

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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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