Some of the reasons we enjoy seasonal changes are also challenges for allergy sufferers. And just like us, dogs and cats can be allergic to substances, allergens, in the environment or airborne. When your dog or cat comes in contact with an allergen, the immune system releases histamine and the itching, swelling, and irritation begins. Dogs and cats usually come in contact with allergens by inhaling from the air or by direct contact with the skin. Reactions can be severe and occur immediately after exposure or be delayed. Allergies may come and go with the seasons, or persist throughout the year. Listed below are some of the common allergens and warning signs:
- Fleas or flea bites
- Grasses, Weeds, Trees
- Insect bites or stings
- Household Cleaners & Products
Here are some of the signs of allergies:
- Scratching skin or ears
- Licking & chewing of the paws
- Rubbing the face & eyes
- Watery eyes
- Shaking ears
- Reoccurring ear infections
- Red or inflamed skin
- Coughing or wheezing
If the scratching becomes intense, your dog or cat may damage their skin while trying to relieve the sensation. As a result, this can leave the skin with open wounds, and vulnerable to infection and potential for hotspots. You may also notice hair loss, scabbing, and crusting due to excessive scratching, chewing, or rubbing. Because the symptoms of allergies are similar to other disorders, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian if you notice these behaviors. For example, persistent coughing and wheezing can be a warning sign of asthma in cats. In order to determine the source of the itching and, or rule out other skin problems, your veterinarian will need to examine your pet. This may also include allergy testing to determine the exact allergen your pet is sensitive to.
What Can I Do to Relieve My Pet’s Allergies?
Your veterinarian may prescribe an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve your pet’s symptoms. They may also recommend bathing with a medicated shampoo to wash allergens away from the skin and reduce irritation.
Avoidance and prevention are key methods for controlling allergic reactions, but it may be difficult to completely avoid allergens, especially for pets adapted to the outdoor lifestyle. Making some changes to daily habits may also help managing exposure:
- Provide a flea and tick preventative recommended by your veterinarian
- Keep yards maintained and lawns trimmed to discourage insects and to manage pollen.
- Change furnace filters and perform regular house cleaning to prevent the buildup of allergens in the home.
- Consider an air purifier, which helps reduce airborne allergens including dust.
- Regular bathing or spot cleaning helps remove allergens collected while outside. Once inside, wash or wipe down the paws and other skin areas that may be affected.
There are a variety of different treatments, medications, nutritional supplements and topical products designed to help control seasonal allergies. Talk with your veterinarian about the best product or solution that meets the needs of your dog or cat. VetRxDirect has a wide selection of allergy care products for both dogs and cats.