Pets suffer from allergies the same way people do, according to experts.
Bella the Bichon Frise is the light of her family's life, according to Alison Ziewacz.
"She really does make you smile," Ziewacz said.
Around the age of 2, the dog's family said she started showing signs that she was in distress.
"In the fall, she would start to itch and itch and itch and itch," Ziewacz said. "She was just miserable."
By scratching at the areas that were bothering her, her veterinarian said she created even more problems.
She had a hairless circle that she scratched away, one of the many itchy spots she scratched.
Ziewacz said it was only in the past couple of years that the source of that itching was identified.
Dr. Andrea Dennis of the Bloomfield Animal Hospital diagnosed it as allergies.
Dennis said itchiness is a major symptom along with recurring ear and eye infections and constant licking of the paws.
"The key thing is when they take that paw and they turn it over," Dennis explained. "And if they're inside that paw and they're really biting at it then you know that's a big sign."
Dennis said dogs and cats are susceptible.
"Probably the number one breed is golden retrievers," Dennis said.
Labrador retrieves, terriers and Bichon Frise are also more susceptible than other breeds.
The causes are fairly common, according to Dennis.
"Dust mites is a common one. Tobacco smoke is another one," she said. "The grasses, pollens, ragweed in the fall."
Dennis said allergy testing can be done, just like it is for people, to determine the exact allergens that bother individual pets. Once the allergens are determined, serums can be created and periodically injected to build up resistances.
Dennis administered a shot to a dog that was allergic to grasses, birch and oak trees, dandelions and human dander.
She said yes, dogs can even be allergic to people.
Steroids are another treatment option, but they can have side effects.
Dennis said there are new drugs out there that once mass produced may even be a better option.
For Bella, Dennis said she'll never be cured of her allergies. She is getting her allergy shots regularly and taking additional medicines when allergens are particularly potent, like in the fall.
However, her family said she's feeling the best she has in years.
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