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You'll find pet dander on just about every warm and fuzzy critter we bring in to our homes: from cats and dogs, to birds, hamsters, and ferrets. And just about anything with dander has the potential to bring susceptible people down with a suite of allergy symptoms, says allergist Asriani Chiu, MD.
All cases of allergies, whether they are severe or mild, are genetic in nature. A dog or cat that becomes allergic to vaccines, drugs, food, pollens, fleas, etc., is genetically programmed to have an immune system capable of mounting the allergic response. An allergic reaction is not the fault of the medication, vaccine, food, or environment; it is a genetic trait inherited from the parents. It is unwise to use individuals with abnormal immune systems in a breeding program.
The sad news is that there is no cure for allergies in dogs and cats. There are, however, ways to decrease allergen exposure and to address allergy symptoms in pets. Allergies in dogs and cats occur when the immune system overreacts to something that isn't really a threat. For example, reacting to peanuts, air-borne pollen, or laundry detergent—none of which should cause harm. The material that causes an allergic reaction is called an antigen. Antigens are usually proteins. The term "allergen" is often used rather than the term antigen, but these two terms are slightly different. Antigen refers to any substance causing allergies, and allergen refers to ingested or air-borne substances causing allergies.Yucca is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps the immune system function normally. It helps resolve symptoms without side effects common with steroids. Yucca should be given daily for allergies. , a concentrated liquid medication is a powerful product that is safe for cats and dogs with allergies. It can also be given in your pet's food or applied directly to areas of itching skin.Dogs and cats with allergies are itchy. They itch because histamine is released when their immune system attacks the offending allergen. Areas of the skin that most often itch are ears, eyes, feet—even between the toes—arm pits, groin, and around the anus. This itching causes feet biting, head shaking, face rubbing, and bottom scooting. Some pets also bite or scratch their bellies. About 60% of cats that pull out their hair (barbering) and have bald spots (alopecia) have itchy skin from food allergies.Allergies in dogs and cats can have signs and symptoms that sometimes look common or that might be attributed to something else. Pet itching and scratching are high on the list, with odor, ear infections, skin infections, surface bumps, and scooting to name a few. Among the dog breeds predisposed to develop allergies, are an unusually high number of retrievers and terriers. For example, all Labrador Retrievers—black, yellow, and chocolate—have a tendency to develop food allergies. In a recent study of 30,000 dogs, the following were among the most likely to develop allergies: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, English Setters, Irish Setters, Boston Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Sealyham Terriers, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Wheaton Terriers. In addition, Bulldogs, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, and Shar Peis are prone to allergies.