For those of us with seasonal allergies, spring means pollen, pollen, and more pollen. Runny noses, congestion, teary eyes, and constant sneezing are some of the things that we have to look forward to in the upcoming months. But did you know that pets exhibit different signs of allergies? If you notice any of the following signs in your dog or cat, it is likely that he or she may be suffering from seasonal allergies
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
In dogs and cats, allergy symptoms tend to take the form of skin irritation, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis. To relieve the itching, pets almost always resort to the most natural reaction: scratching. Excessive scratching or biting is a sign that you should easily notice. Pets may also rub their bodies against furniture or the floor in an effort to relieve the itching.
As the scratching worsens, your pet’s skin will grow inflamed, red, and tender to the touch. Open sores and scabbing might result. Cats, in particular, tend to engage in vigorous scratching, which can lead to the development of tiny lesions on their skin.
Dandruff and Excessive Shedding
Because allergies can severely dry out the skin and cause it to flake, you may notice an increase of dandruff from your pet. Scratching can also result in hair loss and shedding, sometimes in patches.
Lesions on Paws
If an environmental allergen is the root cause of the problem, check your pet’s paws. If you notice lesions on the underside or top of their paws, the culprit is likely to be pollen or dust that is collected as they trot outdoors.
Ear infections can be related to allergies, especially when it comes to dogs. As part of a generalized allergic response, ear canals may be itchy and inflamed. Alternatively, yeast or bacteria may grow. If you notice signs of scratching at the ears, head shaking, and red ears, take note. You may also see discharge or an odor coming from your pet’s ears.
Treatment of Seasonal Allergies in Pets
If you suspect that your pet has seasonal allergies, it’s important to bring him or her to see a medical professional. Allergies are usually multi-factorial, which means that diagnosis is not always easy. Even with treatment, it can take eight to twelve weeks to see improvement.
Veterinarians usually opt for an intradermal skin test, meaning that small amounts of test allergens are injected under your dog’s skin. This can help to pinpoint exact allergens, as well as the severity of the allergy. After identifying which injections cause redness or hives, an immunotherapy shot can be developed by your vet. The treatment requires injections over the course of about a year. Nearly 70% of dogs see improvement using this method.
Home remedies are not meant to replace a visit to a veterinarian, which is absolutely necessary in the case of seasonal allergies in pets. However, if your visit is a few days away, there are some ways you can temporarily relieve symptoms until a thorough treatment plan is developed.
A simple bath using mild shampoo will provide your pet with immediate relief from itchiness. If your pet is allergic to pollen or dust, a bath will also wash away any allergens collected on skin and fur.
Washing your pet’s feet can drastically reduce the amount of the allergens carried into the home and spread about. After a walk outdoors, be sure to give your pet a simple foot bath.
Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements, like fish oil, can help to reduce inflammation and build up the skin’s barrier. This is beneficial to both the allergic reaction and the overall health of your pet.
For those of us who personally experience allergies, we can only imagine how difficult the experience is for pets who cannot communicate or understand what is going on. It is recommended that pet owners keep an eye out for symptoms of an allergic reaction and quickly contact a professional team, like the one at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, if an allergy is suspected.