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      Pet allergies more common in the U.P.

      It's the season for allergies, making some of us suffer, but what about our pets? Our Facebook fans wanted to know: do pet allergies actually exist?

      Not only do pet allergies exist, but they're actually pretty common in dogs, cats and even horses.

      Veterinarians say typically you'll want to bring your pet in for a checkup if they're scratching more than usual or have irritated skin. Sometimes it'll just take a bit of Benadryl to fix the problem, but in other cases, the allergies can be much more complicated.

      Bandit Sowa is a happy eight-and-a half-year old Pap (papillon) who competes in rally obedience courses. He also suffers from severe allergies.

      "He's pulled out chunks of hair; he's caused skin irritations that had to be treated with antibiotics," said his owner, Vicki Sowa.

      It's only gotten worse with time. He's endured both environmental and food allergy tests. Now Bandit is on a low dose of steroids to keep him comfortable.

      Vicki Sowa has spent hundreds of dollars and hours to solve the problem, but what's causing the allergic reaction remains a mystery.

      "I'm to the point, I don't know what to do anymore," she said. "I would do anything to solve this."

      Sowa is not alone. Facebook fan Jennifer Lumpkins writes about her dog: "The vet here said we are out of options other than visiting a dog dermatologist in Green Bay. I feel bad that even with all the steps we do take for him, he doesn't have much relief."

      That's the case with many pets that suffer from allergies. The cause is typically seasonal, environmental or food-related, but narrowing it down is tough, and sometimes testing could add up to thousands of dollars.

      Vets say allergies are not breed-based and can appear at any time of a pet's life. They can also get better or worse with age.

      "It can get as severe as total hair loss; it can be potentially life-threatening," says Dr. Abe Aho.

      Allergies are also possible for felines. In those cases, their symptoms may also manifest in their respiratory tract. Treatment can vary from a low dose of Benadryl to more intensive drugs, but vets say it's an important problem to take care of.

      "When the issue is resolved, many owners will actually describe that they have a new dog or their puppy back," Aho says.

      According to Aho, pet allergies are actually more common here in the Great Lakes region due to our environment.

      If you suspect your pets are struggling with seasonal allergies, the symptoms should minimize once the first frost of the season hits.