If your cat frequently itches, scratches, coughs, or experiences nasal congestion, they may have allergies. Our vets in Portland will now explain how to relieve their symptoms.
Does My Cat Have Skin Allergies?
If your cat has allergies, it may exhibit the following common allergic reactions, behaviors, conditions, and symptoms:
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
- Swollen, sensitive paws
- Ear infections
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excessive licking (grooming)
- Itchy, running eyes
- Red or dry skin
If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above, you should schedule an appointment with your vet to diagnose the cause of your cat's unhealthy skin condition.
Types Of Allergies In Cats
Cats commonly experience four types of allergies: environmental, fleas, food, and seasonal. This section provides detailed insights into these allergy types and how they can impact your cat.
Environmental Allergies - The causes of environmental allergies include pollen, grass, fungi, mold, and dust. Your cat may also have allergies to things like cigarette smoke, perfume, and certain types of cleaning products.
Flea Allergies - When a small external parasite 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 determine which foods irritate 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.
How Are Allergies In Cats Diagnosed?
If your cat exhibits itching, scratching, or wheezing, your vet will perform a comprehensive physical examination and review your cat's medical history. Additionally, they will advise conducting laboratory tests to confirm your cat's diagnosis.
Cat allergy testing can be carried out using a blood or skin test. In the case of a blood test, the vet will extract a blood sample from your cat and send it to a lab for analysis.
As for the skin test, the vet will administer small injections just beneath the cat's skin. If your cat is allergic to a specific substance, it typically develops a hive on its body.
Can Indoor Cats Have Seasonal Allergies
Indoor cats can indeed develop allergies. Even if a cat primarily stays indoors, it can still encounter a range of allergens, including dust mites, mold, and pollen that may enter the home through clothing, shoes, or open windows.
Cats living indoors can also exhibit allergies to household items like food and cleaning products. Numerous cleaning products contain chemicals that can trigger respiratory problems and cat skin irritation.
Veterinary Allergy Medicine For Cats
Veterinarians use a multifaceted approach to treat pet allergies. They begin by addressing clinical signs like excessive itchiness and secondary bacterial or yeast skin or ear infections.
Treatment options vary depending on the allergen and the reaction it triggers.
- Prescription shampoo (antibacterial or antifungal)
- Prescription ear flushes
- Anti-inflammatory topical medications
- Oral antibiotics
- Itch relief medication, such as Apoquel for dog allergies or Atopica for cats
- Injectable monoclonal antibody therapy
- Corticosteroid therapy
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 before giving your pet over-the-counter medication to ensure the medication and dosage are safe for your cat.
What Can I Give My Cat For Allergies?
There are home remedies that can help alleviate certain symptoms. Lifestyle changes that can make a difference include:
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 ensuring 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 relieve cats 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.
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.