Just like humans, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. But while pollen and other airborne environmental allergens might leave you sniffling and sneezing, a pet who suffers from allergies may show other symptoms.
“Animals are susceptible to the same airborne allergens -- pollen, trees, grasses, mold and insects -- that we are,” Dr. Heather Peikes, a specialist in pet dermatology, told VetStreet.com.
Knowing the signs of seasonal allergies is the first step toward alleviating your pet's uncomfortable symptoms. So, how can you tell if your pet is suffering from seasonal allergies? Skin irritation and itchiness can be a major tip-off, experts say.
Signs of allergies
Dog and cat allergies often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation -- a condition called allergic dermatitis. If you notice your pet scratching excessively or biting or chewing a certain area of their body, he or she may have springtime allergies.
Other symptoms to watch for include itchy and inflamed ears, head shaking, and generalized redness (puffy red eyes, red oral tissue, a red chin, red paws). Your four-legged allergy sufferer might also develop open sores, scabbing, and areas of hair loss as a result of all that scratching.
“Some pets get to the point where they’re so uncomfortable that they can’t play or rest properly,” Peikes said.
Treating the condition
While severe reactions -- such as behavioral changes or a foul odor inside the ears, on the lips, or in between folds of the skin -- may warrant a visit to the veterinarian, there are things pet owners can do to treat allergy symptoms and ease their pet’s itchiness.
Here are a few ways to manage your pet’s environmental sensitivities at home:
- Regular baths. Bathe your pet using a mild, plain shampoo or product like oatmeal colloid to wash away the allergens on his or her coat and skin.
- Foot soaks. Wipe down your pet’s paws after they come in from being outside. Foot soaks can help reduce allergen exposure and itching and keep your pet from tracking allergens into the house.
- Take off your shoes. To limit the amount of airborne particles that make it into your home, take off your own shoes after you come in.
- Keep allergens out. Keep your home as allergen-free as possible for your furry companion by keeping the windows closed, vacuuming, and cleaning floors and pet bedding frequently.
- Consult a vet. Your vet may recommend a treatment involving the use of antihistamines or omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Some allergic pets may benefit from allergy shots or topical or oral steroids.