It turns out that dogs and cats have mast cells that release histamine and other highly reactive compounds just like humans EXCEPT that humans have more mast cells in their respiratory system while cats and dogs have more in their SKIN.
So, while dogs and cats can have eye irritation, sneezing, and other respiratory allergies to fleas, pollen, dust mites, or certain food types they are more likely to have skin inflammation, itchy paws, and overactive secretions of the anal glands, ears, and over the lower back.
For cats with allergic skin disease, the most common symptom are little scabs and areas of skin inflammation around the face and neck that then progress over the back
Pets with skin, ear, and anal gland allergies tend to be allergic to either the proteins in flea saliva, the proteins in airborne dander and pollens, or to certain proteins in their diet, snacks, or table scraps that they eat. They can also be allergic to ant bites, bee stings, and to straw, bedding, blankets and so on that they come into contact or sleep on.
Often pets are allergic to any combination of the above allergens making these pets especially difficult to make comfortable.
So, if your pet has allergic symptoms, there's a fair chance that at least part of their allergic problem is due to their diet. We know this because about 10-30% of pets that suffer from skin, ear, and anal gland allergies are either "cured" or greatly improved when we do a food trial.
What's a food trial?
It's a simple, inexpensive test to see if your pet's allergy symptoms go away when we
1. Get you, the owner, to stop giving any table scraps, raw hide chews, dental treats, pet treats, or anything else that MIGHT contain proteins that your pet is allergic to.
2. Choosing a trial replacement diet made from an "exotic" protein(s) that your pet is very UNLIKELY to be allergic to and sticking with it for at least 6 weeks.
3. Choosing a diet without a lot of artificial preservatives, coloring agents, artificial flavors and so forth that might cause allergies.
Canine Diets I recommend as a trial or test to see if your pet has food allergies:
Royal Canin Venison & Potato, Rabbit & Potato or Duck & Potato for Cats or Dogs:
The number one veterinary recommended adverse food reaction diet in the world. Limited Ingredients: Each diet is formulated with a unique protein source and a single carbohydrate source (potato).
High digestibility to ensure optimal nutrition absorption.
Enriched with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils to help reduce inflammation in the skin and digestive tract.
Available in a low calorie formula too.
Note: Dr Dunagin prefers Hills ZD diet... another excellent choice to screen for food allergies.
If your dog or cat responds really well to the above diets and stops itching, flaking, and shedding, you can continue feeding those diets ...
Or ... you can do "challenge testing" where you introduce beef, dairy, soy, wheat, and corn and so forth one at a time for a week or so each to see what ingredients your pet is sensitive too...
OR ... you could try any of the following less expensive, non prescription diets designed for pets with skin problems that may very well work:
For Cats: Choices that reliably work well are limited to either Royal Canin's skin formulas or Hill's similar diets of Rabbit & Pea or Venison & Pea. They're both excellent and come in dry or canned versions. We don't keep a lot in stock but will order you a fresh bag whenever you want it.
Allergies to fleas, pollens, molds, dust mites, and certain foods are a major cause of skin problems, anal gland problems, and ear infections in dogs and cats.
If your pet has skin, ear, or anal gland allergies, there's a strong possibility that your pet has developed an allergy to one of the proteins in the diet, snacks, or table scraps you've been feeding your pet.
When we do a proper food trial on pets with allergic skin and ear diseases, about 10-25% of the pets are "cured" and another 10-25% are at least somewhat improved.
On Other pages we discuss the special diets and supplements use to treat:
Note: No grain diets are a fad at the moment for allergic pets. There is very little scientific evidence that grain based diets are a big factor in skin allergies. And while gluten has been demonstrated to cause fairly frequent problems (mostly Gastro-intestinal) in HUMANS, dogs do NOT seem to be sensitive.
Supplements For Pets with Shedding, Body Odor, and Skin Disease due to Allergies:
Omega Fatty Acids:
Make an obvious improvement in shedding, skin health, odor, flaking, etc in about 10-25% of cases.... unfortunately the improvement is not so obvious in most cases.
Duralactin for Cats or DogsDuralactin helps reduce inflammation and discomfort
Medicated Shampoos, Cream Rinses, and Zymox Ear Treatment
Duoxo gel Extremely helpful in helping damaged skin to heal