Spring allergies – your pets can get them too!

May 15, 2019

The flowers of spring may be in full bloom, but so are the allergies that go along with the season.

Many pet owners do not realize that dogs and cats can suffer from seasonal allergies just like humans, therefore, the veterinarians from BluePearl Veterinary Partners say this is a great time to consider how allergies can affect your pets.

Once the pollen starts wafting through the air, you may start sneezing, but that’s not how allergies usually affect your pets. Pets tend to be affected by absorbing allergens through their skin. So instead of sneezing and sniffling (which can happen, but is not typical), they itch and often come down with skin or ear infections.

Some environmental and contact substances include, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental allergies caused by tree, grass and weed pollen as well as, mold, dust mites and other substances.
  • Contact allergies caused by certain weeds, mulch, cleaning products, topical medications, new carpeting/furniture and other materials.
  • Food allergies (although not as prevalent as environmental allergies)
  • Insect/Flea allergies. Fleas can be annoying enough on their own, but when a pet is allergic, one single flea bite can cause a serious reaction such as excessive scratching, chewing or licking at various areas of the body for one to two weeks.

“It’s the itch that turns into a rash,” warns Dr. Nadine Znajda, a clinician in BluePearl’s dermatology service. She often hears pet owners say “my dog has hives,” but in reality, bacterial skin infections stemming from allergies are usually the underlying cause.

Pay close attention if your dog scratches themselves excessively, rub their faces along the furniture, licks their feet, or repeatedly scoots their bottom across the floor. If cats suffer from allergies, they may lick themselves excessively and even pull out clumps of hair. If you do see these signs, contact your family veterinarian to see if allergies may be the cause. If problems persist, a veterinarian may refer the pet to a dermatologist, like those at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospitals.

BluePearl veterinarians use a range of diagnostic techniques to identify pet allergies, including allergy testing with the purpose of developing allergen-specific immunotherapy which comes in the form of an injection or oral medication to lessen the allergic response. Other treatments can include antihistamines, steroids, the use of air filters, bathing and avoidance of the allergens. At home, when you come in from outside, wipe his or her face, underside and paws with a damp washcloth, damp paper towel or unscented baby wipes after a walk. This can help remove allergens.

Maybe the most important tool a pet can have is an owner who keeps a close watch, notices signs of trouble and who takes them to their regular family veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist.