Allergies and hypersensitivities are a disorder of the immune system. The immune system in pets is designed to defend the body against harmful pathogens. However, in our allergic pets, after exposure to certain stimuli or substances, the immune system overreacts, producing an undesirable immune response to certain allergens that would be considered harmless in a non-allergic animal. This allergic response, or hypersensitivity, can manifest as itchy, red and inflamed skin.
There are four common allergic skin diseases that our pets can be diagnosed with. These are:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis
- Cutaneous adverse Food reaction
Clinical signs for each of these diseases can be very similar and some of the time there can be an overlap of diseases, where your pet may have two concurrent allergies, for example Flea Allergic Dermatitis as well as Atopic dermatitis. A very thorough history given to your veterinarian will be important in helping to reach a diagnosis for your pet. The following sections will elaborate on each of these four common allergies.
While allergies are one of the most common presentations for skin disease there are many other diseases which can also cause itchy, red and inflamed skin. Along with taking a history and performing a clinical exam, your veterinarian may also perform skin tests to rule out these other causes.