Seasonal allergies aren’t just for people; dogs and cats can also suffer because of allergens in their environments. Although there is no cure for seasonal allergies, there are many steps pet owners in Charlotte, NC can take to make their animal companions more comfortable, even during allergy season.
Can Pets Have Seasonal Allergies?
Yes, just like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from seasonal allergies. Up to 3.6% of dogs and 2% of cats are affected yearly by allergy symptoms.
While humans with allergies may present with a wide range of respiratory symptoms, South Charlotte pets with allergies are most likely to show it in the condition of their skin, which can become itchy, inflamed, and irritated when exposed to allergens.
Most pets with seasonal allergies will begin showing symptoms between 1 and 3 years old. By staying alert for potential signs, pet owners and veterinarians can work together to ensure that a simple allergy doesn’t turn into a persistent and painful problem.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Pets
Because dogs and cats can’t talk, pet owners must look at their companions’ behaviors to find signs of seasonal pet allergies. Depending on the pet, the symptoms can vary from mild to severe, but even mild symptoms are worth talking about and investigating with a vet.
Common symptoms of seasonal allergies in pets include:
- Scratching and itching
- Red, irritated skin
- Biting their coat or skin
- Watery or red eyes
- Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and runny nose
- Ear infections or waxy, smelly, red ears
- Gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances
- Excessive shedding
- Scooting or licking anal glands
- Discolored or unusually thick skin
When left untreated, seasonal allergies may develop into dangerous secondary infections. The skin, eyes, ears, and respiratory system are all particularly vulnerable to secondary bacterial and fungal infections. By acting quickly when symptoms appear, Ballantyne pet owners can increase the likelihood of successful allergy treatment.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Pets
Just like in humans, seasonal allergies in pets are caused by an immune system that overreacts to everyday irritants. Some of these irritants, or allergens, may be seasonal, while others can affect pets year-round.
When and how a pet is affected can give owners a vital clue about what is causing a pet’s seasonal allergies. Common causes include:
- Pollen and plant allergens
- Mold spores
- Dust and dust mites
- Fleas and other parasites
- Cleaning solutions and household products
Pet owners should stay aware of changes in their animal companion’s environment. Even small changes like going to a different dog park or buying a new laundry detergent can expose pets to allergens they may not have interacted with before.
Treating Pets With Seasonal Allergies
The first step in treating a pet with allergies is figuring out the root cause of the allergy. Diagnosis can take time and effort but is vital in developing the most effective treatment strategy.
The pet’s age, the specific allergens, and the severity of the allergy can all affect the type of treatments recommended. Common treatments for pet seasonal allergies include:
- Avoidance: If avoiding or reducing exposure to an allergen is possible, do it. This strategy may be difficult when dealing with more pervasive allergens.
- Antihistamine allergy medicine: When avoidance isn’t enough, a veterinarian may prescribe anti-allergy medicine that works to block symptoms. Antihistamines can be used for both the short- and long-term and are often used alongside other treatment methods. Do not give your pet over-the-counter (OTC) allergy pills without talking to a veterinarian.
- Steroids: Anti-inflammatory steroids can block or control allergic reactions. Higher doses or long-term use of steroids can have serious side effects, so they are generally used as one small part of a larger treatment plan.
- Medicated shampoo: Bathing your pet with a medicated shampoo can help soothe irritated, itchy skin. There are both OTC and prescription treatments available.
- Allergy serum: Allergy serum tends to work best for younger animals and isn’t generally recommended unless other treatment options have failed. Allergy serum is a long-term solution that requires time and consistency to show results. It can take from several months to up to a year for symptoms to improve noticeably.
- Cytopoint and Apoquel: These medications were developed to provide relief to pets without the side effects seen with steroidal medications. Cytopoint is an injectable given at the vet’s office every six weeks or so, and Apoquel is a daily oral pill. They are not appropriate for every allergic situation. However, since their introduction, they have revolutionized the treatment of allergies and can provide tremendous relief for many allergic pets.
- Home remedies: From oatmeal baths to treats made of local honey, there’s a lot of advice about home remedies for pet seasonal allergies out on the internet — but not all advice is created equal. Just remember treatments that would be safe for humans might be dangerous for animals. Speaking to a vet before trying anything new and potentially harmful is essential.
There is no cure for pet seasonal allergies, but working with a trusted vet like those at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic to develop a treatment plan to control symptoms and maintain quality of life is possible.
Preventing Pet Seasonal Allergies
Reducing exposure to allergens is an easy, nonmedical way to help prevent and control pet seasonal allergies. There are some easy steps pet owners can take to help reduce or eliminate allergens in their environment:
- Regular grooming: Bathing — or even just wiping down a pet’s coat and paws — can help remove allergens from contact with the skin. A good grooming routine can help prevent uncomfortable itching and irritation.
- Cleaning and filtering the home: For pets with mold, mildew, dust, or dust mite allergies, a regular home cleaning schedule can be worth its weight in chew toys. Dusting, vacuuming, and washing soft toys and bedding regularly can make a difference. Additionally, upgrading the filters in your HVAC system to a HEPA-certified level of filtration can provide relief from allergic symptoms.
- Flea and parasite prevention: Flea allergies are common in dogs and cats, making parasite control a priority for all pets. There are many prevention options available. Talking to a vet can help pet owners choose the right one.
- Proper nutrition: There are a number of prescription and non-prescription diet options available that can be very helpful to pets with food allergies. While not seasonally related, these options may still be worth discussing with your veterinarian. Additionally, increased consumption of omega fatty acids can help soothe irritated skin, prevent infections, and improve coat quality.
There are many ways to help a pet suffering from seasonal allergies, not all reliant on prescription pills, creams, and injections. Behavioral and environmental changes can be powerful tools in combating allergy symptoms.
When Is It Time to See a Vet?
If you have noticed pet seasonal allergy symptoms in your pet, don’t delay. Allergies can worsen when left untreated, leaving pets vulnerable to secondary infections and other complications.
Although there’s no cure for pet seasonal allergies, many treatment options are available to help control symptoms and increase comfort for pets in Charlotte, NC. Contact Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic to schedule an appointment today.