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Find a Veterinary Dermatologist

WE DON’T WANT A TREAT

WE WANT A TREATMENT

Scratching, licking, chewing, sneezing, head shaking, butt dragging—if you’re seeing intense or ongoing behavior like this in your pet, it may be a problem they can’t just scratch away. Allergies in cats and dogs are more common than many people realize, and can really take a toll on both pets and pet parents. Take this 5-question symptom quiz. If your answers suggest your pet may have allergies, read on to find out how you can help ditch your pet’s itch.

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SOUND FAMILIAR?

WE DON’T WANT A TREAT

WE WANT A TREATMENT

Dog with pleading expression and lethargic looking cat Dog with pleading expression and lethargic looking cat Dog with pleading expression and lethargic looking cat

Scratching, licking, chewing, sneezing, head shaking, butt dragging—if you’re seeing intense or ongoing behavior like this in your pet, it may be a problem they can’t just scratch away. Allergies in cats and dogs are more common than many people realize, and can really take a toll on both pets and pet parents. Take this 5-question symptom quiz. If your answers suggest your pet may have allergies, read on to find out how you can help ditch your pet’s itch.

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SOUND FAMILIAR?

START THE QUIZ HERE!

First, tell us your pet’S NAME:

My pet’s name is .

Does scratch, lick, chew, and/or groom more than you think is normal?

Has had problems with ear infections, skin infections, fur loss, greasy coat, foul odor, thickening skin, skin/fur discoloration (including on the paws or around the eyes), and/or anal gland problems?

Is on a veterinarian-recommended flea prevention medication that also prevents mites and other parasites, and is this a regular routine?

Has ’s itch ever been treated with steroids (pills or injection), Apoquel®, Atopica®, Cytopoint®, Temaril-P®, antihistamines, or other anti-itch medications?

Did any of those treatments help ’s itchiness (even if just a little or briefly)?

Congratulations! Without these signs, it does not sound like has allergies. But it is never a bad idea to check with your veterinarian, because allergies are no fun for anybody!

However, since allergies in cats and dogs are a common problem (and can develop at any age), read on to learn more about this pet problem and how veterinary dermatologists can help. And consider sharing this site with other pet lovers in your life, as their pets may also be battling allergies.

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may have mild allergies.

Since even mild pet allergies can be uncomfortable and are often life-long, tending to worsen over time, talk with your veterinarian to discuss a plan to manage and monitor ’s itchiness. The more proactive you can be, the better.

Read on to learn more about this pet problem and how veterinary dermatologists can help. And consider sharing this site with other pet lovers in your life, as their pets may also be battling allergies.

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may well have allergies, even possibly to fleas.

First speak with your veterinarian about a safe and effective flea and other parasite prevention and treatment plan for and your home environment. This is a crucial step to begin bringing comfort to and peace of mind to you.

Read on to learn more about this pet problem and how veterinary dermatologists can help. And consider sharing this site with other pet lovers in your life, as their pets may also be battling allergies.

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It sounds like could have environmental allergies (maybe even atopic dermatitis).

could benefit from an allergy workup with a veterinary dermatologist, a veterinarian with advanced training who specializes in diagnosing and treating pet allergies.

Learn more on this site and use the “Veterinary Dermatologist Finder” below to locate veterinary dermatologists near you. They can help you and your regular veterinarian get to the bottom of ’s itch and start your pet on the path to the best relief and comfort possible.

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It sounds quite likely that could have environmental allergies (maybe even atopic dermatitis).

could benefit from an allergy workup with a veterinary dermatologist, a veterinarian with advanced training who specializes in diagnosing and treating pet allergies.

Learn more on this site and use the “Veterinary Dermatologist Finder” below to locate veterinary dermatologists near you. They can help you and your regular veterinarian get to the bottom of ’s itch and start your pet on the path to the best relief and comfort possible.

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It sounds like could have food allergies.

could benefit from doing a proper food trial overseen by a veterinary dermatologist, a veterinarian with advanced training who specializes in diagnosing and treating pet allergies.

Learn more on this site and use the “Veterinary Dermatologist Finder” below to locate veterinary dermatologists near you. They can help you and your regular veterinarian get to the bottom of ’s itch and start your pet on the path to the best relief and comfort possible.

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Vulnerable looking cat and dog

ALLERGIES IN

CATS & DOGS

Allergies develop when a pet’s immune system overreacts to something in their environment, something they eat, or something that stings or bites them. The “something” that triggers an exaggerated immune response is called an allergen and the allergies they cause are no fun for your pet, or you as their pet parent. When not properly diagnosed and treated, allergies in cats and dogs can cause major and lasting damage, prolonged discomfort, and added health issues for your pets…not to mention mounting costs and frustration for you.

Identifying

potential
signs &
symptoms

of allergies
in your pet

Our pets can’t tell us what’s bothering them, but certain behaviors and worrisome signs speak volumes—if you know what to look for. Any of the signs noted here—either alone or in combination—could mean you’ve got an allergic pet. As a pet parent, the sooner you can recognize signs like these, the sooner you can help address the underlying problem.

Itching and scratching icon

itching &
scratching

Paw licking & chewing icon

Paw licking
& chewing

Face rubbing icon

Face
rubbing

Fur loss icon

Fur loss

Reddened & inflamed skin icon

Reddened &
inflamed skin

Head shaking & ear infections icon

Head shaking &
ear infections

Butt dragging & anal gland problems icon

Butt dragging
& anal gland
problems

'Tear staining' around their eyes & 'reverse' sneezing icon

“Tear staining”
around their eyes &
“reverse” sneezing

…a fast and sometimes unsettling sucking in of air through the nose that’s expelled quickly—either once, or repeatedly.

Excessive grooming & hairballs icon

Excessive
grooming
& hairballs

Dog looking up at all the symptoms
Closeup of cat staring intensely Closeup of cat staring intensely

Figuring out if your pet

may have allergies

Cats and dogs can be allergic to multiple things and even have multiple types of allergies. And while pinpointing the underlying problem can be complicated and take time, doing so is important for an allergic pet’s long-term comfort and health. Only with a proper diagnosis can an action plan for both a short-term “quick fix” and long-term control and comfort be achieved. To get to the bottom of things, your best bet is to partner with your regular (“primary care”) veterinarian and a veterinary dermatologist, who is a specialist you may be less familiar with, but will learn more about below (keep reading!).

Allergies that cause itchiness and skin problems in cats and dogs tend to fall into 3 categories:

Flea-allergic dermatitis icon

Flea-Allergic
Dermatitis

Allergies to the saliva fleas inject into a pet when they bite them.

Food allergies icon

Food
Allergies

Adverse reactions and allergies to the proteins or other ingredients of the foods a pet eats.

Environmental allergies icon

Environmental
Allergies

Allergies to grasses, tree and weed pollens, molds, dander, mites, insects, and other potential allergens common in our—and our pets’—everyday environments.

If a pet and all other pets they are in contact with at home are consistently taking the right flea prevention medicine and still have problems, then flea-allergic dermatitis is usually not the issue. Of the remaining two categories, environmental allergies (not food allergies) are the more common culprit of allergic itch in cats and dogs, and it’s even possible for a pet to have both or all.

Diagnosing allergies in cats and dogs is a process: Food allergies require a strict “elimination diet trial” to diagnose, while environmental allergies—since there is currently no specific diagnostic test—involves a “diagnosis of exclusion.” This requires ruling out all other causes of itch such as fleas, mites, skin infections, and food allergies before it can accurately be said that a pet has environmental allergies.

To further complicate matters, many allergic pets have “atopy” or are “atopic,” meaning they may have a genetically increased risk of developing and suffering from allergies. Atopic pets can have their allergies triggered by either environmental or food allergens, or both. The inflammation, redness, itchiness, infections, fur loss, and other signs these pets get due to their allergies is called “atopic dermatitis.”

Photo of happy and grateful dog Photo of happy and grateful dog

Treating your pet’s

environmental allergies
& atopic dermatitis

The first priority is getting your atopic pet quick itch relief with safe, effective treatments to make them comfortable and allow their skin to begin to heal. However, their itch and allergy care shouldn’t stop there, as allergies and atopic dermatitis are life-long conditions that tend to get worse over time without a proper long-term management plan.

Once environmental allergies have been diagnosed, you and your veterinarian/veterinary dermatologist can discuss allergen testing and adding allergen-specific immunotherapy to your pet’s allergy improvement plan. The goal is to naturally reduce your pet’s reaction to their allergy triggers over time, and thus their allergy “flares” and long-term need for anti-itch medications.

Allergen testing doesn’t diagnose allergies; it helps to identify the underlying causes of your pet’s allergies— the specific mix of pollens, molds, weeds, and other allergens that are triggering their itch and causing their misery. Allergen testing is done through your primary care veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist and involves either submitting a blood sample and/or direct testing within the skin. These test results, along with the information you provide regarding your pet’s environment and lifestyle, allow for an allergen-specific immunotherapy prescription to be customized for your pet.

Frequently called “allergy shots,” “allergy drops,” or just “ASIT” for short, allergen-specific immunotherapy is personalized treatment that can naturally retrain your pet’s immune system to stop overreacting to allergens. ASIT is an important part of the long-term allergy improvement plan for many atopic pets. With ASIT and the guidance of your veterinarian and a veterinary dermatologist, you can be well on your way to ditching your pet’s itch.

Yes, veterinary dermatologists exist –

and they’re awesome!

Just as there are “people doctors” that are specialists in certain areas, like cardiologists (heart specialists) and oncologists (cancer specialists), there are also specialist veterinary doctors including cardiologists, oncologists, and yes—dermatologists—available for pets. Veterinary dermatologists are experts in diagnosing and treating allergies and other skin, coat, and ear conditions in animals. A veterinary dermatologist can streamline your pet’s allergy work-up and care and may save you time, money, and frustration in the process, too. This is especially true when you involve them earlier in the course of your pet’s “allergy journey.”

Photo of playful dog lying on his back

Curious about veterinary dermatologists AND how they can help you and your itchy pet?

Learn more in our

Veterinary Dermatologist FAQs:

My regular veterinarian treats allergies, why should I bring my pet to a veterinary dermatologist?

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Primary care veterinarians are amazing and they and their teams do a LOT! Everyday appointments include everything from routine vaccinations, disease management, and medication checkups to pain and poisoning intervention, all scheduled in 15- to 30-minute blocks—and that doesn’t include walk-in emergency and scheduled surgeries. Veterinary dermatologists are busy, too, but appointments are typically scheduled in 30-60 minute blocks and their practices are solely dedicated to allergies and other skin, ear, and coat issues.

Atopic dermatitis is a tricky condition. It requires not just advanced knowledge and experience, but also (very importantly) dedicated time and focus to get a pet’s full itch-related history, do a thorough skin, coat, and ear exam, ask the right questions, and determine the appropriate tests for a work-up in order to begin investigating a pet’s condition. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure expert disease management and improved quality of life by improving itch and allergy flare control. As a parent of a pet with allergies, your active involvement is needed, too. A veterinary dermatologist and their team can take the time necessary to answer your questions while guiding you through the “allergy journey” you and your pet have embarked (or “emmeowed”) on. Veterinary dermatologists are very important partners in allergy diagnosis and management; getting them involved can make a huge difference in your pet’s quality of life and your peace of mind… especially when you do so earlier in the process.

What additional training do veterinary dermatologists complete?

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After veterinary school and internship, a veterinary dermatologist undertakes an additional 3-year residency training program and a rigorous series of tests. Veterinary dermatologists have dedicated their professional lives to advancing understanding and care of allergies and other skin, coat, and ear conditions. They are the true experts when it comes to solving animal dermatologic issues.

If I bring my pet to a veterinary dermatologist, will my regular veterinarian still be involved in my cat’s/dog’s care?

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Typically, yes – the best outcomes are often achieved when your regular veterinarian and a veterinary dermatologist co-manage your pet’s allergies or other skin, coat and ear conditions. And your regular veterinarian will help incorporate your pet’s allergy care with the rest of your pet’s wellness and medical care. Diagnosing and treating allergies in cats and dogs is definitely a “team sport” and a collaborative effort.

Do I need a referral from my regular veterinarian to see a veterinary dermatologist?

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It depends. Some veterinary dermatologists take new patients without a referral, while others may require a referral from your primary care veterinarian. Referrals can help ensure that common and more easily diagnosed and treated causes of pet itching—like fleas and/or mites—are treated and ruled-out by your primary care veterinarian before you seek the specialist-level assistance of a veterinary dermatologist. Once you’ve found a veterinary dermatologist’s office near you using the Veterinary Dermatologist Finder below, check out their website and give them a call. If a referral is needed, contact your veterinarian’s office and ask for one in order to make the appointment. (Don’t worry, you won’t offend or hurt your veterinarian’s feelings by asking for a referral. Primary care veterinarians typically appreciate the help that veterinary dermatologists can provide in allergy cases!)

Isn’t it more expensive to see a veterinary dermatologist than to have my regular veterinarian diagnose and treat my pet’s allergies?

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It may seem so initially, as the exam fee is typically higher. However, a veterinary dermatologist may actually save you money (and time) in the long-run, especially if you involve them earlier on in the course of your pet’s allergy journey. Veterinary dermatologists are often able to conduct a more efficient investigation of your pet’s allergies and arrive at the best treatment options more quickly. The sooner a pet’s allergies are diagnosed and properly managed—both with short-term itch relief and long-term control of the underlying allergies and improvements in the overall health of their skin—the lower the chance that their allergies will worsen and continue to flare. All of this may result in improved itch control and quality of life for your pet, and lower long-term costs (and inconvenience and frustration) for you.

How do I make an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist?

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Start right here! Locate veterinary dermatologists near you with the FINDER below. Your results will include the name, address, phone number, and website of the practice(s) in your area. Check out the different practices in the links provided and when you find one you like, call or make an appointment through their website. Congratulations! You’ve now taken that first important step to getting your pet the expert level care and allergy relief that they—and you—deserve.

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