Excessive scratching, recurring ear infections, and ongoing cough and cold symptoms can all be signs of allergies in cats. In today's post, our Greensboro team discusses the symptoms and what you and give a cat for allergies.
Types of Allergies in Cats
There are 4 common types of allergies seen in cats, these include:
Environmental Allergies - Substances that cause environmental allergies include pollen, grass, fungi, mold, and dust. Your cat may also have allergies to things like cigarette smoke, perfume, and some cleaning products.
Flea Allergies - When a small insect known as a flea bites your cat, it causes an allergic reaction that can be very irritating. The saliva from a flea bite can affect a cat’s entire body, not just where the cat was bitten. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea-prevention product to help protect your cat.
Food Allergies - Some cats may have allergies to certain foods. This can cause skin itchiness, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your veterinarian can help you find out which foods are irritating your cat and create an appropriate diet.
Atopic Dermatitis - When a cat experiences allergies, their bodies can often react with a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. With this condition, your cat may develop skin sores, scabbing, hair loss, and redness.
Signs that Your Cat May Have an Allergy
Cat allergy symptoms will vary depending on which type of allergy your kitty is suffering from. That said some of the most common signs of allergies in cats include the following behaviors, conditions, and symptoms:
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
- Itchy, running eyes
- Ear infections
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Swollen, sensitive paws
- Excessive licking (grooming)
- Red or dry skin
If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above, it's time to head to the vet to investigate the cause of your cat's symptoms.
Skin Allergies in Cats
Although some of the symptoms listed above are respiratory in nature, many cat allergies manifest themselves in a variety of skin conditions.
If your cat is itching, scratching and wheezing your primary vet will likely want to complete a thorough physical exam and discuss your cat's medical history. They will also recommend laboratory testing to be sure of your cat's diagnosis.
Your kitty's allergy testing may take the form of blood tests or skin tests.
Blood Testing for Cat Allergies
Blood tests for cat allergies involve your vet will taking a sample of your cat’s blood then sending the sample to a lab for evaluation (or in some cases performing the evaluation at their in-house diagnostics lab).
Skin Testing for Cat Allergies
Skin testing for cat allergies is a similar process to a allergy testing for people. Your vet will give your cat small injections of possible allergens just under the skin. If your kitty is allergic to a particular substance, a hive will often appear on their body where that substance was injected.
Allergy Treatments For Cats
Now that you have some idea of what could be causing your kitty's symptoms you are probably asking yourself "What can I give my cat for allergies?".
Veterinarians typically take a multi-faceted approach to treating allergies in cats. Treatment will typically start by addressing symptoms such as excessive itchiness as well as any secondary bacterial or yeast skin or ear infections that can result from cat allergies.
Depending on the allergen affecting your cat, and the reaction it causes, treatment may include:
- Prescription antibacterial or antifungal shampoos
- Prescription ear flushes
- Anti-inflammatory topical medications
- Oral antibiotics
- Medications to relieve itching, such as Atopica
- Injectable monoclonal antibody therapy to help boost your cat's immune system
- Corticosteroid therapy to fight inflammation
If your pet has mild seasonal allergies without a skin infection, over-the-counter antihistamines might be an option for allergy relief. Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin are commonly used allergy medicine for pets. always contact your vet prior to giving your pet over-the-counter medication to ensure the medication and dosage are safe for your cat.
Non-Prescription Treatments For Cat Allergies
If you are wondering what you can give your cat for allergies, there are a few home remedies that may be helpful depending on the cause of your cat's symptoms.
If your cat has uncomfortable skin allergy symptoms you may want to try:
Home Improvements - Making your home as hypoallergenic as possible can help your cat with allergies. Consider installing an air cleaner with a HEPA filter and making sure your fabric surfaces are cleaned often.
Soothing Baths - Your veterinarian may recommend bathing your cat with a pet shampoo containing oatmeal. (If your pet is on a flea medicine, check with your vet to ensure the topical flea or tick medication won’t be washed away, reducing the effectiveness.
Dietary Supplements - Supplementing your pet’s diet with fish oil can be an effective way to reduce flaky or itchy skin. Probiotics can also offer cats relief from skin allergies by restoring balance to bacteria levels in their GI tract.
Physical Blockers - A simple intervention for itchy pets is to have them wear some kind of clothing to cover the itchy areas. It has been shown to reduce their need to scratch but finding something that your cat will wear may be challenging.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
Our Greensboro veterinarians have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies in cats. Contact Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment for your feline family member.
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