Seasonal Allergies and Your PetWith summer coming to an end, the weather cooling down, winds pick up as the leaves and flowers begin to fall, and pollen starts flying through the air. Fall allergies can seem like the bane of your existence. If your pet could speak English, they would probably agree with you too. Many animals are just as susceptible to the dreaded effects of pollen and mold as we are. If you are struggling with the season’s allergies, chances are your pet is too!

Pet owners need to be aware of the possibility of allergies as we head into the fall season. Here are some things to consider and understand about allergy season and your pet.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are just another way to describe environmental allergies. Some of the common seasonal allergies you and your pet may encounter include pollen, ragweed, mold, dust, weeds, dander, and grass.

Fall and spring are the biggest times of the year when it comes to allergies as this is when particularly strong plants are in bloom. However, they can happen at other times, especially if you live in an area where plants are constantly blooming.

This doesn’t mean an indoor pet won’t be affected by seasonal allergies. Pollen, dust, mites, dander, mold and other allergens easily find their way into homes through open doors, windows, and being carried into the house by people.

Symptoms and Signs

Dogs and cats will often manifest the same allergies we do, though they tend to be more dermatologic in symptoms. However, that doesn’t mean that is the only thing to watch out for.

  • Incessant itching and scratching
    • Seasonal allergies are most likely to affect your pet’s skin. Pay attention to creased areas such as between legs, toes, behind the ears, and undersides.
  • Red and irritated skin
    • If your pet has patches of irritated skin, it may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If left untreated these areas can turn into “hot spots”, which can become raw infection-prone sores.
    • This includes sores, crusty spots, scabs, and bumps on the skin.
  • Excessive licking and face rubbing
    • A pet with itchy skin will do anything to soothe the sensation including licking, chewing, rubbing and shaking his head violently from side to side.
    • While facial rubbing and paw licking is part of normal grooming routines, excessive amounts may indicate allergies
  • Inflamed ears
    • Sometimes seasonal allergies will present themselves like ear infections.
    • Be mindful of red, funky-smelling, and discharge in your pet’s ears as these are tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Puffy and watery eyes
    • Just like in humans, animals’ eyes can swell and become red and watery if they are affected. Cats’ eyes are especially vulnerable to allergens.
  • Heavy shedding/hair loss
    • This is usually a result of constant scratching and biting of affected areas.
  • Itchy paws
    • Animals are more likely to absorb allergens into their skin or paws since they have close contact with the ground. Your pet will often attempt to relieve irritation by biting, chewing, and licking his paws throughout the day.
    • Look out for swollen or tender paws
  • Sneezes and sniffles
    • Allergies may cause your pet to sneeze, sniffle, or wheeze.

Allergies often create and itch-scratch cycle when it comes to animals, meaning the skin becomes itchy and your pet scratches the area causing it to become infected, which leads to more licking and scratching.

Any animal who is struggling to breathe or has pus draining from skin, nose, ears, or eyes needs immediate attention.

Treatment

The first thing to do is to talk to your veterinarian for an official diagnosis. Allergies can be difficult to discern. Sometimes symptoms can present as an allergic reaction but maybe a part of something else.

Like humans, some animals have more severe allergies than others, so treatments will vary. Your vet will make recommendations based on the diagnosis of your pet.

Treatments can include but are not limited to:

    • Veterinary prescribed medications (antihistamines, steroids, antifungals, antibiotics, topical medical and others)
    • Bath recommendations (frequency, types of shampoo, and hair/skin treatments)
    • Lifestyle changes (reducing contact time of allergens outside, consistent cleaning of home/bedding)

Often these allergies are unavoidable to a large extent, but if you know what your pet’s triggers are, you can work to reduce exposure, minimize symptoms, and offer treatment when needed to prevent allergies from becoming severe.

Seasonal allergies do not have to interfere with the quality of life for you or your pet. While we wish no one had to deal with allergies, we are happy to provide treatment and relief. For more information, please contact us at Valley Veterinary Clinic.