Allergies plague my oldest human child every year. Inevitably, at the start of spring, his nose won’t stop running, he greets each day with ten to fifteen sneezes, and he feels run down and sluggish. He suffered through the allergy haze for a year or two before we became proactive and started him on allergy meds before the season began.
Human children are not the only ones affected by the pollen from trees and grass. Our pets, especially ones who spend a fair amount of time outside, can also suffer the effects of seasonal allergies. And just like humans, they may need a little help getting through the spring season without chewing their fur off.
The concept of pets having allergies was not one I was familiar with on a personal level, until last week. Our sweet Hattie was chewing and biting her paws all night long, to the point that she was not sleeping...and neither were we! We took her to the vet, and sure enough, she is struggling with allergies.
How do I know my pet has allergies?
- Excessive itching, sneezing, and grooming
- Sneezing and watery eyes
- Paw chewing
- Skin inflammation
- Ear infection
What can I do to prevent seasonal allergies in my pet?
- Bathe your pet once or twice a week. Bathing your pet helps remove environmental allergens, bacteria, and oil. In the PetMD post, Top 5 Treatments For Your Pet’s Allergies, Dr. Patrick Mahaney also suggests a leave-on-conditioner or veterinary-prescribed topical treatment to help manage general or localized skin irritation.
- Choose pet food wisely and give omega 3 fatty acid supplements. Skin allergies usually correlate to our environment, but can also be associated with the foods our pets ingest. Mahaney recommends diets that are “human-grade and whole-food,” pointing out that some pet foods can contain undesirable contaminants that contribute to allergies. Fish oil derived Omega-3 fatty acids have a natural anti-inflammatory effect, and can boost healthy lipid layers in your dog’s skin to help protect him from allergens. Our vet recommended giving fish oil prior to the spring season as a preventative measure.
- Use antihistamines. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, “they are worth a try, particularly if they are used in conjunction with other treatments or to prevent the onset of symptoms rather than to deal with them once they are in full swing.” See What Can I Give My Dog or Cat for Allergies?, for more about administering meds for allergies.
Asthma, an allergic reaction to an environmental stimulant, can also plague dogs and cats at this time of the year.
How do I know my pet has asthma?
- Coughing and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Pale or blue gums (see a vet immediately)
What can I do to prevent asthma?
- Do not smoke in your house or around your pet.
- Refrain from using hair sprays, perfumes, or air fresheners. Consider using baking soda in shallow dishes for absorbing odors.
- Clean your cat’s litter box frequently.
- Bathe your pet regularly.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from seasonal allergies or asthma, it is best to take him to your vet. Your pet’s doctor will know best whether you need to address the issue head on, with an oral or topical medication, or if a dietary or lifestyle change can clear things up. Make sure to take action quickly, as ignoring the signs and symptoms of allergies and asthma can lead to more acute problems in the future.