May 30, 2024

Allergies in Pets

Do you have an Itchy Pet?

Allergies in pets in Gulf Breeze is an extremely common condition that we see and treat. We see an influx of patients for these issues seasonally, but some are all year round. Allergies are common and can sometimes be frustrating. We can try to help get your cat or dog the help they need to feel better!

Differential Diagnosis for allergies in pets

There are numerous things that can cause an itchy cat or dog. After going through history questions and exam, we can start to eliminate things and work with what is most likely affecting your pet.

Flea allergy dermatitis

  • Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common cause of allergic skin disease in pets. Eliminating fleas with a good flea preventative is typically the best route to go. Every pet in the house may need to be on prevention. They are typically chewing and licking around their back legs/lumbar spine and scratching around their neck. You will not always see fleas or flea dirt, as some pets are extremely allergic to one flea bite. While other pets can be covered in fleas and not be itchy at all. A lot of owner’s that have pets with fleas, have no idea that this was the issue at hand.

Atopic dermatitis

  • Atopic dermatitis is very common in our region. It is when a pet has allergies to things in the environment. There is serum allergy testing (blood test that we can do here) or intradermal allergy testing (skin testing done at dermatologist that is the gold standard). Sometimes a referral to the dermatologist is the best route to go to target what your pet is allergic to. Once that is accomplished, they can be started on immunotherapy to help desensitize your pet to those allergens. For pets that have occasional allergies, we have many options to treat the itch and/or infection.

Food allergy

  • Food allergy is less common, but something that we definitely see. Dogs with a food allergy are typically allergic to the protein in the dog food, like chicken, beef or sometimes milk. We can discuss doing a food trial if this is suspected. This is typically done with a hydrolyzed protein prescription diet.

Endocrine disease

  • Endocrine conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s can lead to skin issues. If we suspect this, we can typically rule these conditions in or out with bloodwork.


  • Some cancers can present with abnormal lesions and itchy skin. This is not common or at the top of our differential list typically. Sometimes when we have eliminated multiple causes and the pet is still having issues or lesions that are suspicious, we may need to biopsy tissue.


There are many treatment options for allergies in pets. We reach for various treatments depending on your pet’s condition and severity. Sometimes we need to treat secondary infections (bacterial or fungal) on the skin or in the ears. UC Davis has a good article about allergies in pets.

If you are concerned about your pet’s itchy skin, please consult with one of our doctors at Gulf Breeze Animal Hospital. We can talk about ways to help alleviate your pet’s itchy skin.

Dr. McClure

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