Chapter 3.1. Allergies 1. Understanding Pet Allergies: Food and Environmental Sensitivities


As pet owners, it's essential to be aware that our furry companions can experience allergies, just like humans. Allergies in pets can be triggered by various factors, including food and environmental elements. In this article, we'll delve into the world of pet allergies, understanding the differences between food and environmental sensitivities, and learning to recognize their signs.

Food Allergies in Pets

Food allergies occur when a pet's immune system reacts negatively to certain ingredients in their diet. Common triggers include proteins like chicken, beef, or fish, grains such as wheat, corn, or soy, and even some vegetables. Identifying food allergies can be tricky as the symptoms may mimic other health issues. Common signs include itching, skin problems, gastrointestinal issues, and chronic ear infections. We'll explore how to distinguish food allergies from other conditions and the importance of an elimination diet in diagnosing these sensitivities.

Environmental Allergies in Pets

Environmental allergies, also known as atopic dermatitis, are triggered by various external factors like pollen, mold, dust mites, and fleas. Pets may display symptoms such as excessive itching, red and inflamed skin, ear infections, and paw licking. Understanding the seasonal and non-seasonal triggers and their impact on our pets' well-being is crucial. We'll also explore how environmental allergies differ from food allergies.

Spotting the Difference: Identifying Food vs. Environmental Allergies in Pets

Food allergies primarily affect the digestive system, and common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal issues. On the other hand, environmental allergies often manifest as skin-related problems, such as itching, redness, hives, and ear infections. However, some symptoms, like itching, can occur in both types of allergies, making it important to properly identify the underlying cause through elimination diets or allergy testing.

  1. Symptoms: Food allergies primarily affect the digestive system, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal issues. On the other hand, environmental allergies often manifest as skin-related problems, such as itching, redness, hives, and recurrent ear infections.

  2. Itching: While itching can occur in both food and environmental allergies, the pattern of itching may differ. Food allergies may cause itching all over the body, while environmental allergies typically lead to itching in specific areas, like paws, ears, or face.

  3. Seasonality: Environmental allergies may show seasonal patterns, becoming worse during certain times of the year, especially during spring or fall when pollen counts are high. Food allergies, on the other hand, are usually consistent throughout the year.

  4. Response to Treatment: Response to treatment can also provide clues. If symptoms improve with a change in diet (eliminating specific ingredients), it suggests a food allergy. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen despite dietary changes, environmental allergies are more likely.

  5. Elimination Diet: An elimination diet is a helpful tool to identify food allergies. By feeding your pet a novel or hydrolyzed protein diet with limited ingredients for a specific period, you can determine if certain foods trigger the allergies.

  6. Allergy Testing: Consult with your veterinarian about allergy testing. Blood tests or intradermal skin tests can identify environmental allergens that may be causing your pet's reactions.


Understanding food and environmental allergies is crucial for our pets' well-being. Stay tuned for in-depth articles on each type of allergy, focusing on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Help your pets live a happy, allergy-free life!

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