Banfield: Few pets allergic to food; flea, environmental allergies rise

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Food allergies affect just 0.2 percent of dogs and 0.1 percent of cats, according to the 2018 State of Pet Health Report from Banfield Pet Hospital.

Flea allergy has been on the rise over the past 10 years, according to the report, with a 12.5 percent increase in dogs and a 67.3 percent increase in cats. Environmental allergies are also on an upward trend, with a 30.7 percent increase in dogs and an 11.5 percent increase in cats over the past decade.

The 2018 State of Pet Health Report, released May 29, focused on the prevalence of various allergic conditions in pets in the U.S. Banfield's research team analyzed data from over 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats across Banfield hospitals.

"Allergies are always in season" infographic - Source: Banfield Pet Hospital

"Pet owners are increasingly aware of food sensitivities in people—and that diet plays a role in skin health," said Dr. Emi Saito, senior manager of veterinary research programs at Banfield. "Many are led to believe their itchy pet may also be suffering from a food allergy. Banfield Pet Hospital data supports that food allergies in our pets are uncommon, and other causes of certain skin conditions should be investigated before pursuing a food allergy diagnosis."

The 2017 prevalence of flea allergy was 1.8 percent in dogs and 2.0 percent in cats, and of environmental allergies was 3.6 percent in dogs and 0.4 percent in cats.

Key points from the 2018 report:

  • Fleas are the most common external parasite among Banfield patients. Cats are twice as likely as dogs are to be found to have fleas.
  • Environmental allergens for pets vary by region and climate, but many are found in a typical pet owner's home—including pollen, dander, molds, and cleaning solutions.
  • Food-allergic pets are more prone to skin infections than non–food-allergic pets are. The prevalence of pyoderma in food-allergic dogs is six times the prevalence of pyoderma in non–food-allergic dogs and, similarly in cats, 15 times more prevalent in those that are food-allergic. Thirty percent of food-allergic dogs and cats are found to have another allergic skin condition.

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Related JAVMA content:

Banfield finds 1 in 3 dogs and cats is overweight (Aug. 1, 2017)