It’s April and everyone in my home is sneezing, wheezing, coughing or scratching… including our dog.
Spring is a beautiful time of year. Everything’s in bloom. The bees are buzzing. And the landscape is vibrant… no matter where you live. But with all that pollen comes allergies.
And our pets suffer too.
Pets may have some of the same symptoms as humans. But unlike humans, the telltale sign of seasonal allergies in pets is a lot of scratching.
Their allergies usually manifest in allergic dermatitis—skin irritation or inflammation.
Because their symptoms are different than ours, their suffering often goes unnoticed. But they can be just as miserable.
Here are 7 signs your pet has allergies:
1) Chewing or licking their feet
You’ll notice redness between their pads or toes from excessive licking or chewing.
2) Constant licking of their body or groin
If the licking continues, this can cause loss of hair, redness, scabbing and hot spots.
3) Rubbing their face on furniture, carpet, grass, walls
Excessive itchiness is so uncomfortable, your pet will rub against anything to relieve it. The stress of itching and scratching can even cause loose stools.
4) Inflamed or infected ears
Head shaking, ear scratching, hair loss, odor or discharge around ears, are signs there’s a problem. Allergies can cause yeast or bacteria to grow in the ear resulting in infection.
5) Recurrent hot spots (dogs) or facial scabbing (cats)
The scratching can make your pet’s skin inflamed and infected. In dogs, a hot spot may form. This is a loss of hair on a patch of skin that becomes red, oozy and inflamed. On your cat, you may see scabs on the face. Not likely hot spots though. They’re rare in cats.
6) Wheezing (more likely in cats)
Pets rarely have the same respiratory allergy symptoms as people. But it can happen. The may wheeze, particularly cats. Or they may have a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing or coughing.
7) Generalized redness (eyes, oral tissue, chin, paws, anus)
The inflammation caused by an allergic reaction to something in your pet’s environment can cause their mucous membranes to become inflamed and red.
What causes pet allergies?
Pets can have seasonal/environmental allergies, food allergies, flea bite allergies and contact allergies.
But you’ll know it’s a seasonal allergy if you only see the signs at certain times of the year—typically spring, summer or fall.
If you live in a place where there is no hard freeze, environmental allergens can cause problems year-round. As a result, it can be difficult to differentiate between seasonal allergies and food allergies.
Food allergy symptoms can be the same as seasonal allergies. Read more about how to know if your dog has a food allergy here.
Pollen, grass, mold and dust mites cause seasonal allergies in pets, just as they do in people. So minimize your pet’s exposure to these allergens to ease their misery.
How can you treat allergies in your pet?
The best way to help your pet is to keep them and their living areas as free from allergens as possible.
During the warmer months:
- Soak their feet in a footbath or wipe them with a wet towel after a walk to keep allergens from coming into your home.
- Bathe them frequently using a hypoallergenic shampoo, or one for sensitive skin.
- Wipe them down with a grooming wipe after they’ve been outside.
- Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding often, using nontoxic cleaning agents.
- Keep your pet off the grass if possible. If that’s not feasible, try booties.
You may want to try some allergy fighting supplements too.
Quercetin suppresses histamine release. Bromelain and papain increase the absorption of quercetin which makes it more effective. The three taken together decrease pain and inflammation from irritated mucous membranes.
Then there are Omega-3 fatty acids. They decrease inflammation and reinforce the skins barrier. Salmon oil is a great source of Omega-3. Look for a food like Husse that already has it in most of their recipes.
And coconut oil is good to add to your pet’s diet. It has lauric acid which helps decrease yeast production, a cause of infection in the ears.
Talk to your vet before you give your pet any supplement as it can cause an adverse reaction if your pet suffers from other health problems or takes medications.
And talk to your vet, too, if your pet’s symptoms are so severe that the itch/scratch cycle is causing the skin to become inflamed and tender. This can progress to open sores, scabs, hair loss and infection if allowed to continue.
You want to get a handle on allergies quickly because seasonal allergies can become year-round with continued exposure to allergens.
Particularly for older pets, the more exposure to environmental offenders, the more intense and longer lasting the allergic response becomes until the allergy season just doesn’t seem to end.
Firstly, your vet will tell you to feed your pet a high-quality well-balanced diet free of fillers and animal by-products. A food like Husse.
Also, avoid a high carbohydrate diet. Just like in humans, carbs increase inflammation in the body.
Your vet may also recommend an antihistamine to help the itching. And in severe cases, your vet may prescribe a steroid.
Steroids have many serious side effects and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Because they can cause high blood pressure and kidney disease, your pet will need regular blood work and urine tests if they’re on them long-term.
And if the scratching has caused a secondary skin infection, the vet will prescribe an antibiotic.
If your pet’s allergies are so severe they need steroids, it may be time to talk to the doc about allergy testing and shots.
Yes, that’s right… allergy shots aren’t just for human kids anymore. They can be very effective in pets.
With the right combination of intervention and prevention, allergy season doesn’t have to be miserable for you or your pet.
What do you do to minimize your pet’s allergy symptoms? Share in the comment section at the top of the page.