Laytonsville Veterinary Practice
Laytonsville Veterinary Practice


Understanding this common cause of itching and how to manage it

What are allergies?

An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to benign stimulants we call allergens. In pets, the most common allergens are pollen and plant material (in environmental allergies) or proteins found in meat (in food-based allergies).

What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs and cats?

Itching (local to one part of the body or generalized), sneezing, coughing, and discharge from the eyes and nose are all symptoms of allergies in pets. Chronic allergies can result in secondary symptoms, such as recurrent ear infections and skin infections due to excess scratching. Food allergies sometimes cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Environmental allergies + treatment

When dogs or cats are experiencing allergies thought to be caused by something in the environment, several treatments can be used to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Allergy testing and injectable or oral immunotherapy

  • Cytopoint injections

  • Medications such as Atopica or Apoquel

Food allergies + treatment

Food-based allergies typically do not respond to medical treatment or medications, and can be resolved by eliminating the offending allergen (i.e. chicken, soy, beef, etc.) In some cases, a food trial is required to determine the allergen. Once dietary allergies are identified using a Food Allergy Trial coordinated by the veterinarian, the offending protein source may be avoided to resolve the allergic reaction.