Seasonal allergies are not only a problem for humans, but also for our furry friends. Pets can suffer from itchy skin, sneezing, ear infections, and respiratory issues due to the pollen, mold, and dust in the air. Here are some tips on how to identify and treat your pet’s allergies, and when to seek veterinary care.
Signs of seasonal allergies in pets
Pets show similar allergy symptoms as humans, but they experience them mostly through their skin. Excessive scratching likely means itchy, irritated skin. Here are a few more symptoms to watch out for:
- Scratching and biting their coat or skin
- Red, inflamed, or infected skin
- Excessive shedding
- Compulsive paw licking in dogs
- Boot scoots or licking their anal glands
- Chronic ear infections or red, waxy ears (common for dogs who are prone to ear problems in the first place)
- Respiratory issues, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing (more common in cats)
Causes of seasonal allergies in pets
Seasonal allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain environmental substances, such as pollen, mold, dust mites, or grass. These substances are called allergens, and they can trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
Some pets may be more prone to seasonal allergies than others, depending on their breed, age, genetics, and exposure. For example, dogs with short noses, such as pugs and bulldogs, may have more difficulty breathing when exposed to allergens. Cats with long hair, such as Persians and Maine Coons, may have more trouble grooming themselves and removing the allergens from their fur.
Treatment options for seasonal allergies in pets
There is no cure for seasonal allergies in pets, but there are ways to relieve their symptoms and prevent complications. Here are some of the treatment options available:
- Antihistamines: You can safely give your pet an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce the inflammation and itching caused by allergens. The dosage depends on your pet’s weight and needs, so check with your veterinarian before giving any medication. Some of the antihistamines that are safe for pets include Benadryl, Claritin (not Claritin-D), Zyrtec, and Chlor Trimton. These medications work best as preventatives, so start giving them to your pet as soon as the allergy season begins.
- Topical treatments: You can also apply anti-itch sprays or creams to your pet’s skin to provide temporary relief. Only use products that are made for pets, as human products may be ineffective or toxic to them. Look for shampoos containing oatmeal, which helps to moisturize the skin, ease itching, and reduce inflammation.
- Baths: Bathing your pet regularly can help remove the allergens or pollen from their skin and fur. Use lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo made for pets. Avoid hot water and harsh soaps, as they can dry out the skin and make it more prone to irritation.
- Flea and tick prevention: Fleas and ticks can worsen your pet’s allergy symptoms by causing skin infections and allergic reactions to their saliva. Make sure your pet is on a monthly flea and tick preventative product that is suitable for their age and size.
- Omega-3 supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your pet’s skin health and reduce inflammation. You can give your pet omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil capsules or liquid, or add some flaxseed oil or canned sardines to their food. Consult your veterinarian about the appropriate dosage for your pet.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that involves exposing your pet to small amounts of allergens over time to desensitize their immune system and reduce their allergic response. This can be done through injections or oral drops that are given by a veterinarian or at home. Immunotherapy can take several months or years to show results, but it can be very effective for some pets.
When to see a veterinarian for seasonal allergies in pets
If your pet’s allergy symptoms are severe or do not improve with home remedies, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can diagnose the cause of your pet’s allergies and prescribe more potent medications, such as steroids or antibiotics, if needed.
Some of the signs that indicate your pet needs urgent or emergency care include:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, or tongue
- Hives or rashes
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite or weight
- Lethargy or depression
- Severe skin infections or wounds
Seasonal allergies can make your pet miserable and affect their quality of life. By following these tips, you can help your pet cope with their allergies and enjoy the outdoors without discomfort.