Does your cat have skin or food allergies?
If so, you may have heard that CBD can help relieve allergy symptoms.
Read on to find out why I highly recommend CBD for cats with allergies.
What Causes Allergies in Cats?
Cats, just like humans, can be allergic to allergens found in their food or environment.
These allergies are caused by a hypersensitivity in your cat’s immune system.
Whatever specific allergen sets off allergies in your cat, the principle behind the allergic reaction is always the same:
The body sees a regular substance (like pollen or a particular food ingredient, for example) as particularly harmful.
In turn, the body fires up it’s defense systems and tries to fight off the substance as if it were a virus or bacteria.
This extreme response is what causes your cat to display symptoms of an allergic reaction.
What are the Symptoms of Cat Allergies?
Itching and scratching are by far the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction in cats.
However, some cats also show other symptoms, including:
- Coughing or sneezing
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Puffy, watery eyes
- Ear infections or itching and scratching around the ears
- Inflammation in the throat
- Swollen paws
What Allergies Typically Affect Cats?
Cats can be allergic to a wide variety of allergens.
- Natural compounds like pollen, mildew, grass, or particles from trees and weeds
- Ingredients in food
- Insects like fleas and mosquitos, as well as flea-repellent products
- Cleaning products like soaps, detergents, and air fresheners
- Cigarette smoke
- Perfumes and deodorants
- Rubbers and plastics
- Specific fabrics
Flea Bite Allergy
The most common allergy affecting cats is flea-bite allergy.
When fleas bite your cat, a tiny bit of the insect’s saliva enters the skin through the bite.
In allergic cats, this saliva can cause an intense allergic reaction characterized by severe itching around the bite.
As a result, your cat will scratch, bite, and lick the area continuously, which only makes matters worse.
Over time, the licking, biting, and scratching can irritate the skin, cause hair loss, and lead to open wounds that risk getting infected.
Flea bite allergies are most commonly seen in the area of the back just below the tail.
If your cat is constantly scratching and biting at this area and suffering from tufts of hair loss, that’s a good indicator that she is suffering from a flea bite allergy.
Atopy is a general term that refers to skin allergies in cats.
These allergies are most commonly caused by inhaled allergens in the environment, such as pollen and other particles from trees, grass, weeds, or other plants.
Skin allergies are also commonly caused by fabrics like wool or nylon and dust/dust mites.
If your cat inhales these particles or comes in contact with them, their body will automatically register the allergen as some kind of threat.
In response, your cat will produce a protein (known as IgE) that latches on to the compound.
Once this happens, the allergic symptoms start kicking in.
Again, the most common symptoms include persistent itching and scratching, but some cats may also show some of the other symptoms I mentioned above.
Most atopy allergies are seasonal, meaning your cat will be affected by them during specific times of the year (like spring and summer).
Food allergies are the 3rd most common type of allergy to affect cats.
The most common ingredients that cause allergies in cats include red meats (beef and lamb especially), corn, soy, gluten from wheat products, and dairy.
Like with flea bite and atopy allergies, food allergies most commonly cause persistent itching and scratching.
Other common symptoms of an allergic reaction to food include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as gastrointestinal upsets.
In order to correctly diagnose your cat with a food allergy, your vet will usually use a food trial test.
This involves exclusively feeding your cat a trial diet that includes proteins which they have not eaten before for roughly 6-12 weeks.
If your cat shows improvements, your vet will then work with you to treat their allergy and put together a long-term diet plan that eliminates the trouble foods that caused the allergies.
Note: There’s a common misconception that cats develop food allergies in response to sudden dietary changes.
This isn’t true:
Cats can develop a food allergy at any point in their life.
How are Allergies Commonly Treated?
Allergies cannot be cured.
Instead, your vet will work with you to minimize the severity of your cat’s allergy.
This will involve lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as the use of medications to help control allergy flare-ups.
Some lifestyle changes that can help control your pet’s allergies include:
- Vacuuming regularly to remove dust and dirt.
- Avoiding the use of cleaning products, air fresheners, perfumes, deodorants, and other inhalants that irritate your cat.
- Using air purifiers to remove dust and other irritants from the air.
- Removing irritating plants and weeds from around the house/garden.
- Following a strict dietary plan (as set out by your vet).
Some medications that can be used to treat allergies include:
- Allergy Shots: These are designed to desensitize a cat to a specific allergen. They need to be given regularly and can take a long time to be effective.
- Steroidal Medications: These meds can effectively relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction. However, they can have serious side effects which most pet owners (and vets) want to avoid.
- Atopica: This is an oral medication which helps reduce the inflammation of allergic dermatitis. It is generally well-tolerated but can cause some mild side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and loss of appetite.
- Topicals: Shampoos, sprays, balms, conditioners, and other topical solutions can help fight the inflammation caused by allergic dermatitis and relieve itching.
- Anti-Inflammatory Supplements: Some pet owners like to use anti-inflammatories like tea tree oil, omega-3, and yucca to help relieve their pet’s allergy symptoms. The efficacy of these supplements can vary.
CBD: All-Natural Relief From Allergies, Dermatitis, and More
If your cat suffers from allergies, I highly recommend trying CBD.
Made from cannabis and hemp, CBD has taken the health industry by storm lately thanks to its numerous health benefits.
One of these health benefits is allergy relief.
Below I’ll take a closer look at how CBD can help cats with allergies:
CBD Can Fight Allergy-Related Inflammation
CBD is highly regarded as one of the most powerful natural inflammatories out there.
In fact, in one of my recent articles I found it was more effective than many other popular natural anti-inflammatory supplements, including glucosamine, fish oil, yucca, and more.
When CBD enters the body, it interacts with CB2 receptors, which are found in high concentrations all throughout the body, including in the skin, muscles, internal organs, and even inside immune cells.
When it interacts with these receptors, CBD indirectly activates the Endocannabinoid System, which studies show plays a key role in managing inflammation all around the body.
Inflammation is a pretty key symptom of allergic reactions.
Dermatitis, for example, is characterized by inflammation of the skin.
When cats scratch and bite at their skin due to dermatitis, they only cause the skin to become more inflamed and irritated.
It's also very common for cats to scratch open their skin, which can lead to infections and further inflammation.
Food allergies, on the other hand, commonly cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, including gastritis and colitis.
Thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory effects, CBD can help relief many of these symptoms.
Studies have shown, for example, that CBD can help relieve the inflammation caused by arthritis, pancreatitis, gastritis, IBD, and even diabetes.
Hence, if your cat suffers from inflammation as a result of an allergy, I highly recommend giving CBD a try.
I’ll recommend some specific CBD products that could help with allergy-related inflammation further down in this article.
CBD Can Help Regulate Immune Function
This is big news for cats suffering from allergies.
As I mentioned earlier, allergies are caused by immune hypersensitivity.
Research suggests that CBD might be able to help balance out this immune hypersensitivity.
A paper published in 2010 in the Future Medicinal Chemistry journal examined the role of cannabinoids like CBD in treating inflammation.
The authors of the paper discuss that, since cannabinoid receptors have been found inside immune cells, they could play a key role in regulating immune function.
They also reference studies that found cannabinoids to have immunosuppressant effects in mice.
This means that cannabinoids like CBD may be able to help suppress the immune hyperactivity that characterize allergies.
This is big news, seeing as that’s exactly how drugs like Atopica work.
Seeing that CBD has no side effects, it could offer the same kind of relief as Atopica and other prescription drugs without any adverse effects.
CBD Has Antimicrobial Properties
Another reason why CBD may help manage your cat’s allergies is because it has antimicrobial properties.
Microbes are tiny organisms which are often at the core of environmental and food allergies.
They cause congestion in areas like the sinuses, as well as inflammation in the nose and throat which, in some cats, can cause sneezing, coughing, and wheezing.
Research suggests that CBD can have antimicrobial properties and fight the very microbes that cause allergic reactions in humans and other animals.
Again, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may also help reduce the inflammation that these microbes cause around the body.
CBD Can Promote Skin Health and Fight Dermatitis
There’s a growing body of research showing that the Endocannabinoid System plays a key role in maintaining skin health.
In 2017, researchers discussed the role of the ECS in skin health in a paper titled The Role of Cannabinoids in Dermatology.
The paper discusses that cannabinoids may be beneficial for treating itch as well as the inflammation caused by allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.
The paper also discussed studies which showed CBD can help relieve other skin conditions like psoriasis.
But this isn’t the first time researchers have looked into the role cannabinoids like CBD can play in skin health.
In a 2005 study, for example, researchers tested the effects of hemp oil on patients with atopic dermatitis.
They applied the oil directly to the affected areas over a 20-week randomized trial and compared its efficacy against that of olive oil.
The study found that hemp oil was able to help increase the concentration of essential fatty acids in the skin and relieve the symptoms of dermatitis.
Are Other Pet Owners Using CBD to Treat Cat Allergies?
I know how important it is for pet owners to know whether a supplement is being used by other people and their pets.
Well, CBD is definitely being used by other pet owners.
Gracie, for example, is a 10 year-old cat who was suffering from seasonal allergies and anxiety.
A few times a year, Gracie’s owners noticed her licking and scratching herself intensely, as well as pulling out tufts of her fur.
After leaving her alone while on vacation, her owners came home and noticed Gracie had tough scabs on her skin where she had been scratching, biting, and licking herself.
Her owners noticed she wasn’t getting any better and started looking into supplements to help relieve Gracie’s symptoms.
Her owners were already familiar with CBD oil and were quick to give it a shot.
Within just a week, they noticed huge improvements.
The oil helped calm Gracie’s itch and helped calm her excessive scratching.
It also calmed her anxiety and helped her hair grow back.
There are many other pets out there who, just like Gracie, benefit from CBD in treating their allergy symptoms and other ailments.
For example, I just received this message in our Facebook Group:
Nancy wrote in to share her cat's CBD success story.
Her cat was suffering from many tumors and after 3 months of traditional treatments, things were not getting better, and she was running out of money.
She started giving her cat CBD, and after 5 months he has made amazing progress. He's off his steroids, is sleeping better, is no longer bloated, and is enjoying his life again.
Such a great story!
Use CBD to Relieve Your Cat’s Allergies Today
While I don’t have cats, I have plenty of experience using CBD with my dogs.
I first started using CBD pet supplements when my dog, Rosie, got diagnosed with cancer and hip dysplasia.
Today, I help pet owners just like you stay informed about all the benefits of CBD for their furry friends.
I also review and recommend specific CBD pet products based on my experience with them.
If your cat suffers from allergies, there are a number of products I recommend you try.
If they suffer from skin allergies, I’d recommend looking for an oral CBD supplement.
Holistapet is one of my top recommendations for cat owners, as they have a whole line of CBD oils, capsules, and treats that are specially designed for cats.
I highly recommend their CBD oil: HolistaPet CBD Pet Tincture.
They also have CBD cat treats which get a lot of great reviews.
Either one of these options from HolistaPet is ideal for cats in my opinion.
For more detailed reviews of these products and others, make sure to check out my CBD for cats page.