Spot the tell-‘tail’ signs of allergies in your pet

2018-09-25 06:00
PHOTO: FILECommon symptoms of pet allergies include constant licking, biting and scratching of the body.

PHOTO: FILECommon symptoms of pet allergies include constant licking, biting and scratching of the body.

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PETS also suffer from allergies but it’s not always easy to spot the telltale signs. Although no self-diagnosis should ever substitute the professional opinion of a veterinarian, here are some guidelines of what to consider and look out for.

It is very possible for pets to develop allergies to similar things as us humans. They may even react in similar ways, but their reactions can also be quite different.


• chewing of feet (their own)

• constant licking, biting and scratching of the body (that can often lead to open wounds which may become infected)

• constant rubbing of the face

• recurring ear infections or inflamed ears

• watery eyes

• recurrent hot spots in dogs

• facial scabbing in cats

• respiratory issues (more often noticed in cats)

• chronic hair loss

• itchy bumps/blisters, red in colour on areas that are sparsely-haired

• upset stomach (vomiting and diarrhoea)

Take note of the symptoms and document the occurrences, times of day/year, intensity, frequency, etc. This information may be useful at your veterinary appointment to pinpoint the cause.

Don’t worry if you’re unable to document this kind of information, though; if your vet suspects an allergy he’ll most likely perform an allergy screening to get to the bottom of the issue.

Various types of allergies have been identified, such as allergies to environmental stimulants like pollen, dust, mould, etc. (atopy allergies); different foods or ingested items (food allergies); parasites, like fleas; and contact allergies caused by your pet coming into contact with certain materials. Pinpointing the root issue is key to managing it in the future.

To give your pet the best chance at avoiding developing a food allergy, ensure that you are feeding them a well-balanced diet that has been correctly registered with the legislator. By choosing a brand that is a member of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), you’ll be choosing a product made with the best quality ingredients that you can afford, produced with your pet’s well-being as the primary concern.

It is possible that a food allergy is related to an ingredient in a specific food, as is common with us humans — this doesn’t mean that there is necessarily something wrong with the food, but rather could be an individual reaction of your pet. Should this be the case you could make a change in the food given, remembering to do a gradual switch-over.

We’re fortunate in that we are very spoilt for choice, so you may easily find a more suitable food.

Chronic or severe food allergies can often be dealt with by your veterinarian using a prescribed food, developed to prevent a food allergy reaction.

Avoiding allergies to parasites is also possible by maintaining a good routine of strict tick and flea control.

Although an allergy may seem like a lesser concern than other medical issues, they can cause your pet great discomfort and it is vital that you book a professional veterinary consultation as soon as possible to identify the allergen affecting your pet and put measures in place to control the issue.

• Dominique Kuhlmann is the marketing manager of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI).

• The PFI is a non-profit association made up of industry players who commit to uphold safe, quality pet nutrition, which has the best interests of the pet as its sole purpose. A list of members is available on


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