Dog and cat allergy symptoms
The most obvious symptom of an atopic condition is pruritus. Pruritus is caused by skin inflammation, typically on the paws, head, armpit or groin. Dogs often lick or bite their feet and can be seen rubbing their heads along the floor or other objects. Cats typically overgroom.
The skin inflammation associated with itching is an important symptom and to correctly diagnose atopic dermatitis it is important to know in what context, at what times, and how much the dog or cat itches.
Skin inflammation can be aggravated by bacterial (Staphylococcus) or yeast (Malassezia) infections, which also need treatment. Recurrent ear infections are also often caused by allergy (in over 75% of cases).
Signs such as redness, superficial scratch wounds, discoloration of the fur (from excessive licking / grooming) and hair loss also reflect the severity of the allergy. Depending on the duration and severity of the disorder, lesions can vary between erythema (redness), hyperkeratosis (keratinisation) and lichenification (thickening) of the skin. Occasionally, atopic dogs and cats will have watery eyes, asthma or sneeze. Sometimes there may be digestive symptoms.
Symptoms can be present throughout the year or only during a particular season, depending on the allergens that trigger the allergic reaction. The first symptoms typically occur by 1–3 years of age (in around 75% of all cases). Occasionally, symptoms occur in animals under 6 months of age.
Not all pruritus is due to an allergy, so an accurate diagnosis requires thorough physical examination, including a complete clinical history. All other known causes of itching, such as parasites and infections need to be treated or ruled out before allergy can be diagnosed. It is crucial to confirm and identify the responsible allergens. Next+ Serum Test uses the latest technology in IgE serum testing, using three proprietary monoclonal antibodies from a specific recombinant IgE, plus CCD blockers, resulting in the highest level of specificity and sensitivity. – Read more about diagnosis and Next+ Serum Test.
Atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition, and for that reason any treatment must be continued for life. The best solution is to avoid all contact with the responsible allergen, but most of the time this is not possible. Therefore, the recommended choice for treating atopy is immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is the only treatment that stops the allergy from progressing, by making the immune system less sensitive, or totally insensitive, to the allergens that trigger the allergic reaction. There is only one licensed immunotherapy in Europe – Artuvertin® Therapy – and it is the product of choice under European medicines regulations.