Cat and Dog Skin Disorders Caused by Allergies: Type, Symptoms, and Treatment

The most common cause of skin disorders in dogs and cats are allergies. Pet allergies can be a frustrating problem for both pet owners and their furry companions. At Blue Cross Pet Hospital in North Hollywood, California, we understand the challenges that come with managing pet allergies. Whether your pet suffers from allergies from food, pollen, parasites, or environmental allergens, we are here to help.


Different Causes for Pet Allergy Related Skin Disorders

There are a variety of potential causes for allergy-related skin disorders in dogs and cats.

Food Allergies

Food allergies can be a source of discomfort for pets. The doctors at Blue Cross Pet Hospital can help in determining if your pet has a food allergy, which can be difficult to differentiate from a pollen allergy. Pets with food allergies often lick their paws or have ear infections and, in some cases, gastrointestinal issues. Do not try to remedy the issue by switching your pet’s food before consulting with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Not all “hypoallergenic” pet foods found in stores are truly hypoallergenic. Many may still contain allergens or are contaminated during the manufacturing process. For this reason, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to obtain a prescription for a truly hypoallergenic diet.

Parasitic Allergies

Parasites can also be the root of skin disorders. The saliva that is injected into your pet’s skin from a flea bite may trigger an allergic reaction known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). Symptoms of FAD often include intense itching, which can lead to continuous chewing, licking, or scratching the affected area.

Parasite prevention is an extremely important aspect of pet care, not only to help prevent Flea Allergy Dermatitis, but to also help prevent more serious diseases that can affect your pet’s overall health and, in some cases, be fatal.

Blue Cross Pet Hospital recommends newer prescription products that contain Isoxazolines, such as Nexgard, the monthly chewable flea, tick, and mange pill for dogs. Nexgard provides more coverage and is more effective than older drops like Frontline and Advantage. We feel these monthly pills, like Nexgard, are safer for pets, as they are less likely to be licked off or cause skin irritation. Give Blue Cross Pet Hospital a call to schedule your pet’s dermatology appointment and to get them started on parasite prevention. If you are an existing client and need a refill on your pet’s parasite prevention,

you can easily request a refill online at

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies in pets, also known as atopic dermatitis, are a type of allergic reaction that occurs when a pet’s immune system overreacts to a particular environmental allergen, such as pollen, dust mites, or mold spores. These allergens can be found in the air, in soil, or in water and can be encountered both indoors and outdoors.

Pets with environmental allergies may experience a variety of symptoms, including skin irritation, itching, and hair loss, licking their paws, and ear infections.

If you suspect that your cat or dog may be suffering from environmental allergies, it is important to seek medical attention for your pet to help diagnose and treat the problem. Your veterinarian can perform allergy testing with a blood test to identify the specific allergens that are triggering your pet’s symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment may include medication or injections to manage symptoms, immunotherapy to desensitize the pet to the allergen, and environmental management to help reduce exposure to the allergen, if possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

Signs and symptoms of allergies can vary depending on the underlying cause of the allergy. In general, some common signs of allergies in pets include excessive itching, licking, and scratching, as well as skin irritation or redness, especially of the paws, ears, and lower back. Pets with allergies may also develop rashes or hives, experience gastrointestinal upset, or have difficulty breathing.

In some cases, pets may even exhibit behavioral changes, such as increased irritability or lethargy. If you suspect that your pet may be experiencing allergy symptoms, it is important to schedule a veterinary visit to identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Below are some of the signs that your pet may be suffering from allergies.

Are Hot Spots Caused by Allergies?

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, insect bites, poor grooming, and underlying skin infections. Moisture and heat can also contribute to the development of hot spots, which is why they are more common during the warm and humid months.

Once a hot spot has developed, it can quickly become a vicious cycle of itching, scratching, and further irritation. Pets with thick coats or those with underlying skin conditions are more prone to developing hot spots.

It is important to address hot spots as soon as they are noticed to prevent them from spreading or becoming infected. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting signs of a hot spot, such as excessive itching or licking in a specific area, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian. Early intervention can help alleviate the discomfort and prevent the hot spot from becoming a more serious problem.

Secondary Bacterial or Yeast Infections

Identifying and treating secondary bacterial or yeast infections in dogs and cats with allergies is crucial to ensure their well-being and alleviate discomfort. Allergies in pets can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to these infections.

Identifying these secondary infections involves close observation of symptoms such as excessive itching, redness, inflammation, foul odor, and the presence of discharge or lesions on the skin or in the ears. Veterinary professionals may conduct skin scrapings, cytology, or culture tests to confirm the presence of bacteria or yeast. Once diagnosed, appropriate treatment measures can be implemented. Treatment typically involves a combination of targeted medications such as antibiotics or antifungals, topical shampoos, mousse, or ointments, and regular cleaning or irrigation of affected areas.

In some cases, the underlying allergy itself may need to be managed or treated simultaneously to prevent recurrence of the secondary infections. Veterinary guidance is essential to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on the individual needs of the pet. By promptly identifying and treating these secondary infections, pet owners can help their furry companions find relief from discomfort and promote their overall health.

Managing Your Pet’s Allergies

There are many options available for managing your pet’s allergies, however, not all are recommended by most veterinary professionals. It,_Los_Angelesis vital to seek medical attention if your pet is demonstrating any signs or symptoms of allergic reactions. Below are the courses of treatment that is recommended by Blue Cross Pet Hospital:

Cytopoint Shots

One option for managing allergies in dogs and cats is the use of Cytopoint shots, which last 3-6 weeks. These injections contain antibodies that neutralize a specific protein responsible for triggering itching and scratching in pets. Cytopoint shots are a safe and effective way to provide long-lasting relief from allergy symptoms without the use of steroids. However, these injections are not as effective for food allergies, nor do they treat secondary infections.

Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

Another option for managing allergies is allergy testing and immunotherapy for environmental allergens, such as pollen. A blood test is typically performed to help detect allergies to environmental allergens, such as pollen, house dust mites, or mold. Once the allergen is identified, your veterinarian can create an allergy kit that you can use to help desensitize your pet at home.

Veterinary Prescription Hypoallergenic Diets

Veterinarians can prescribe hydrolyzed prescription diets to manage food allergies. A slow switch over 10 days, then 100% compliance, is usually needed.

Temporary Relief

While waiting for medication or a veterinary appointment, an e-collar can help prevent the pet from scratching or biting at the affected area. However, it is important to note that this is only a temporary solution, and a visit to the vet is necessary to address the underlying issue.


At Blue Cross Pet Hospital in North Hollywood, we are committed to providing the best possible care for your pet’s allergies. From Cytopoint shots to allergy testing and immunotherapy, we offer a range of options to help manage your pet’s symptoms and improve their quality of life. For more information or to schedule a veterinary appointment, contact us today.