You may hear that jingle jangle of their collar from your furbaby scratching themself. Or the excessive licking of their feet, scooting, biting, ear shaking, the list goes on! As we enter the warmer seasons, just like you our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. So how can you know if they have them?
Allergies are sensitivities to things found in our everyday environments like dust and pollen, according to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). Just like in humans, the pet’s immune system can react and cause a histamine and neuronal response to their bodies. Inflammation then causes the various signs associated with an allergic reaction.
Some common seasonal allergies include grasses, pollen, weeds, molds, dander, fungi, certain insects and flea saliva. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there has been a consistent 30% increase in environmental allergy cases in dogs and 11.5% increase in cats.
Common signs associated with the allergic dog and cat include: watery eyes, respiratory congestion, itchiness, shaking of the ears, hair loss, respiratory congestion, sneezing, and licking of the paws and rear end.
Treatment may involve short term or long term therapy. I am personally a big believer in the multimodal approach to treating the allergic dog and cat. This would include:
- Identifying and neutralizing the itch
- Addressing any underlying infection (bacteria, yeast, etc)
- Topical therapy (mousses, medicated shampoos, conditioners)
- Dietary therapeutics (Fatty acids, vitamins and possibly dietary change)
An interesting fact about antihistamine therapy in dogs. They rarely work to alleviate the itch. They sometimes work to alleviate the itch in cats, however. It is strongly recommended to discuss itch treatment options with the veterinarian (monoclonal antibody therapy, low doses of corticosteroids, cyclosporine, etc).
It is helpful in truly understanding the cause of the allergy in animals. Similarly to people, immunotherapy is a very viable option. This involves allergy testing (either a blood test or intradermal skin test) that will identify specific allergens the pet is allergic too. As a result, immunotherapy is created from several vials where the pet can administer therapy by way of injection or by mouth every three to four days, pending the veterinarian’s recommendations.
For some pets that are severely allergic, it is advisable to have the pet seen by a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. They can perform additional diagnostics that can better address seasonal allergies in pets.
Don’t let your pets suffer from seasonal allergies. Keep those windows closed when pollen season arises. Clean their house, their bedding and blankets frequently. Wipe your dog’s paws after coming back from a walk. And enjoy the spring season with your furbaby!