Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer during allergy season. Pets are just as susceptible to environmentally triggered allergies. In fact, there’s been a large growth in pets suffering from allergies on the whole.
According to a 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, environmental allergies are on an upward trend, with a 30.7 percent increase in dogs and an 11.5 percent increase in cats over the past decade.
Unlike allergies in humans, allergies in animals are more likely to affect the skin and ears than the respiratory system. The most common clinical signs of seasonal allergies in dogs and cats are associated with itchy skin or inflammation and secondary ear and skin infections. Tree pollens (cedar, ash, oak, etc.), grass pollens, weed pollens (ragweed) and other organic substances are frequently the cause of seasonal allergies.
Signs and Symptoms
Helping your furry family member find relief from seasonal allergies starts with your ability to recognize the signs that they’re being affected. Keep your eyes trained for the following symptoms:
- Scratching and biting: Itchiness is a common symptom of allergies, especially in dogs. Your pet will start scratching excessively, and might bite or chew at certain areas of his body. He may rub himself against furniture, or he may rub against the carpet to try to get relief from the unnerving itching feeling.
- Red, irritated skin: Excessive scratching often leads to redness and swelling of the skin and can produce sores (commonly known as hot spots) and other skin conditions, including scaling, crusts and inflammation.In some cases, scratching can lead to the development of a skin infection. These infections can be rather severe in cats since their scratching can actually produce small skin lesions.
- Shedding more than usual: Excess shedding is another effect of allergy-induced itching and secondary skin infection. Seasonal allergies can also dry out the skin leading to dandruff.
- Licking: Compulsive paw licking is a common sign of allergies in dogs. Pets with itchy skin will try to soothe the sensation by licking or rubbing their skin.
- Ear infections: Pets with allergies also often have problems with their ears. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed, or they may become infected with yeast or bacteria.Signs your pet’s ears are giving him problems include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odor and a discharge from the ears.
- Respiratory issues: Although respiratory symptoms are more common in humans with allergies, they can sometimes affect pets — more so cats than dogs. Cats can develop allergic bronchitis, more commonly referred to as feline asthma. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.The eyes can also swell and become red if they are affected by allergens.
Getting a Diagnosis
During allergy season (fall and spring) be extra vigilant for signs that your cat or dog is suffering from troubling symptoms. If you notice symptoms, it is best to contact your veterinarian. Your vet will know the best course for testing and treatment of your animal’s symptoms. Other conditions may also be the cause of some of these symptoms, so it’s best to seek the professional advice of your Austin veterinarian.
While there’s no complete cure for seasonal allergies, many treatments can ease your pet’s discomfort.
Depending on the severity of the allergy, your vet or Austin animal hospital will make recommendations such as an over-the-counter antihistamine to help control symptoms such as itching. In more severe cases, steroids and/or antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any secondary skin infections or more serious effects of allergies.
While seasonal allergies can’t be completely avoided, there are several steps you can take to help keep symptoms as bay. These include:
- Give your dog or cat regular baths during allergy season with a gentle, hypo-allergenic shampoo to prevent allergens from being absorbed through the skin.
- Wipe paw pads down when your pet comes in from outside to help prevent him from tracking allergens throughout the house.
- Keep windows closed when environmental allergen counts are high.
- Regularly clean and vacuum the area where your pet stays as well as his bedding to help keep these areas as free from allergens as possible.
If your pet’s seasonal allergies are still significant after taking these steps, your pet may need medication to control the symptoms.
If you suspect your pet has seasonal allergies, contact us at 512-338-4300 to learn how you can bring him relief.