Wintertime is prime allergy season for people and pets alike. But, while you sniffle and sneeze your way through the winter months, you may notice that your pet does not experience the same symptoms. While the mechanism for allergies is the same—the body’s immune system overreacts to a normal substance and mounts an abnormal response—pets experience allergy signs through their skin instead of their respiratory system. Your pet may have an allergy if they exhibit any of these signs.
#1: Chronic itchiness
Itchiness (i.e., pruritis) is the most common allergy sign in pets. Allergen exposure causes your pet’s body to release histamine, which can lead to red, itchy skin. As your pet scratches, digs, and licks their skin, the already-weakened barrier is further compromised, and secondary infections often result. Skin infections cause further discomfort, which can trigger a frustrating itch-scratch cycle.
#2: Recurrent ear infections
Does your dog repeatedly experience red, itchy ears that often have a distinct odor? Bacteria or yeast-derived ear infections are another common allergy sign and can cause significant discomfort for your pet.
#3: Red, raw paws
Many dogs with allergies experience itchy feet and bite at or lick their paws incessantly. Although it is unlikely that you will miss the tell-tale feet-licking, you can also tell your dog has been digging at their feet by saliva staining. When saliva on light-colored fur is exposed to the air, it turns brown, leaving your pet with rust-tinged feet.
#4: Hot spots
A hot spot is a red, raw, hairless area of infection that is intensely itchy. Unfortunately, itching causes further skin damage, but your pet cannot resist biting and licking the uncomfortable spot. Hot spots often seep a yellowish liquid that may form a crust over the raw skin and clump in the surrounding fur.
#5: Anal gland issues
Your pet’s anal glands are lined with skin tissue, which means they can also be affected by allergies. Pets with inflamed anal glands may scoot across the floor, or bite and lick at the area under their tail, to soothe the itching. If the inflammation is not treated, a pet’s anal glands may become impacted and develop an abscess, which can rupture through the surrounding skin.