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It's scratching season. Are your dog's legs going crazy scratching all parts of his body? How about your cat -- is it having a little trouble breathing?
It could be seasonal allergies.

Unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs and cats more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation – a condition called allergic dermatitis or Atopy.

You may see them try to relieve this terrible itching sensation by rubbing on the furniture, the walls or anything that will make them feel temporarily better. Many dogs will lick a certain area until it turns raw. That's called a hot spot. You don't see it in cats very often.

Ears are also something to keep an eye on. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed as part of a generalized allergic response, or they may grow infected with yeast or bacteria. You may see your pet scratching its ears, shaking its head and maybe you will see some hair loss around the ears. If the ear gets infected you will smell a foul odor and there will be a discharge.

What it is

Atopy is the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. Atopy is often seasonal. If a pet is allergic to ragweed, symptoms occur in the fall. Pets who are allergic to spring tree pollen will show signs in April and May. If a pet is allergic to dust mites, the symptoms may be most dramatic in the winter, when more time is spent inside.

What to do

There are things you can do to give your pet some relief. 

Baths are wonderful -- not so much for you because they splash a lot but if you can get a medicated shampoo for itching, bathe your dog frequently. Make sure to use a grain-free (oatmeal-free) shampoo.

Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over the indoor environment.

Clean up

I know we don't like this part but you want your house as free from allergens as possible. Vacuum and keep the pet's bedding clean and use non-toxic soaps.

You want to make sure your pet's immune system stays healthy. Avoid unnecessary vaccinations during allergy season.

Make sure you are feeding a food that is low in grains. You want an anti- inflammatory diet. Stay away from carbohydrates as they can exacerbate the condition.

Don't administer over-the-counter meds for humans to your dog or cat. Call your vet get a prescription for an antihistamine.

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