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Orange cat

Servicing the pets and their owners in the Knoxville and Maryville, Tennessee area for over 20 years.

Scratching the Itch: Pet Dermatology

If you have ever suffered from an allergy, you know exactly how miserable of an experience it can be. Pet allergies are quite similar. The only difference is their relief depends on your diligence and commitment as an owner.

Dog laying on rug

With similar symptoms such as sneezing, itching, scratching, and at times even hair loss and scabbing, there are three allergies most commonly experienced by dogs and cats.

Types of Pet Allergies


Only 5% of the flea population is adults. An adult flea bites your pet and ingests a blood meal, which allows the flea to reproduce. It is the flea’s saliva that creates an allergic reaction. One flea biting your pet every two weeks can keep your pet itching year round. 95% of the flea population is immature stages that live in your pet’s environment. Unless the infestation is treated on a comprehensive level, the process continues on, and your pet will see no relief.

Treatment for flea allergies usually involves a year-round flea medication. If the allergy is severe enough, however, your pet may also be prescribed an antihistamine or an anti-itch medication. Regardless, we recommend practicing good flea control in the home. This would include certain environmental changes, increased pet grooming, and year-round flea treatment for EVERY pet in your home.


Characterized as an inhaled dermatitis, atopy is an allergic reaction to mold spores, dander, or other airborne allergens. The objective when treating atopy is first determining the exact allergens your pet is allergic to. At Volunteer Veterinary Hospital, we draw a blood sample from your pet, send it to a reference lab, and have IgE levels analyzed. Once your pet’s allergens are identified, allergy shots are formulated for your pet’s specific needs.

These shots desensitize your pet’s immune system and dramatically lessen the effects of the specific allergens. In addition to the allergy shots, your pet may also be prescribed oral medications to lessen the effects of its allergens.

Food Allergies

While less common than flea allergies and atopy, pets can suffer from food-related allergies. Typically, it is the result of an over-response by the immune system to a specific protein. Considering that most foods consumed by dogs and cats contain protein, it may take some trial and error in order to isolate the culprit.

Once your veterinarian suspects a food allergy, he or she will most likely prescribe a specialized diet for your pet. It is important to know that feeding your pet ANYTHING outside the prescribed food may delay the process of pinpointing the allergen and, therefore, prolong your pet from seeing any sort of relief.

To find out more about pet allergies, or to make an appointment for your pet, contact us today.