Picture

Photo Credit: tz1_1zt via Compfight cc
The dreary winter blues are always reliably cleansed by the seasonal remedy of Spring as our closer proximity to the sun affords warmer and longer days. But the brightening of our mood is always accompanied by a hearty sneeze as allergens begin to populate the atmosphere. 
But the question remains: can our pets suffer allergic reactions too? And more worryingly, can our pets be allergic to us?   Veterinary science has returned the unequivocal answer of yes to these questions.

The same kinds of allergens that affect people affect our pets as well. One of the prominent culprits is dander, tiny cells that are shed along with hair, fur, or feathers. Humans, cats and dogs all produce it, and can cause allergic reactions in the other. Flea saliva, and some foods can produce adverse reactions as well.

Clinical signs to look out for are skin inflammation, itching, sneezing and runny noses in dogs, and a condition called miliary dermatitis in cats, manifested as little scabs and missing hair around the head and neck area.

Vets advise pet owners to keep a track of how long symptoms are observed in your animal. For example, year-long symptoms suggest dietary problems or non-seasonal environmental substances, as opposed to seasonal allergens like pollen. Thankfully, veterinary schools are constantly on call to help owners by testing animals for allergic reactions by placing small extracts of suspected allergens under their skin. Common allergens tested for include dander, dust mites, feathers and sheep wool. Sporadically, the offending allergen will not be picked up by general testing methods, so vets cautiously remind us that quite simply anything can be an allergen to an animal that has a genetic predisposition to react in such a manner.

Which leaves us to conclude that yes, your insecurities may be well-founded in this instance and you could be the cause of your pet’s allergic reaction. Anecdotally, vets comment that such a discovery often leads to disconsolation in owners, however, we need not fear: modern science has come to the rescue once again. Allergy shots and oral drops are available to train your pet’s body to ignore the allergen, and hopefully, to allow a second chance for you to mend your relationship to your beloved pet.