Contact Allergy

A contact allergy results from direct contact with any substance/plant that causes the animals skin to react. Because hair often forms a protective layer over skin, a contact allergy is often seen in areas that are not well covered with hair such as the underside of feet and the body in e.g. cats and dogs.

The skin where the contact has occured becomes red and itchy and the animal will often rub and scratch the area which in turn can lead to damaged skin and a secondary bacterial infection after a period of time.

Chemicals such as acids are the most common cause of a contact allergy and as the symptoms are usually fairly localised and obvious,swift action by you, the pet owner, in getting your pet to the vet for treatment will normally prevent this sort of allergy from getting out of hand.

Do remember to try and identify the source of the problem as your pet will have a similar or worse reaction if it comes into contact with the irritant again.Remember that all animals have the potential to have an adverse reaction to any substance that they come into contact with, so tracking down the offending substance is not always straight forward.

Remember also that the animal is unlikely to make the association between cause and effect and thus your pet has to rely on you to identify and remove the offending substance from it's environment.

Contact allergies are usually fairly instant affairs with a very short time lapse between contact and the skin reacting.

However, delayed type hypersensitivities also occur where the animal is exposed to a substance with no reaction initially e.g. a particular shampoo, but after repeated exposure to that substance the animal starts to show signs of a skin irritation with scratching, inflammed skin, crusting etc.

Sometimes the source of this sort of allergy is quite easy to identify as over time you might be able to make the connection between cause and effect . e.g. Your dog starts scratching after every wash with a particular shampoo.

On the other hand, being a delayed type reaction, it can become a long, infuriating and demoralising search for the exact cause and in these cases you have to use a process of elimination to try to narrow down the list of potential offending substances.

A contact allergy can be a nuisance, but generally it is much easier to deal with than the other categories of pet allergies.