The good news: Spring is on its way. The bad news: So are the allergies that come with the season.
For humans, this means it’s time to dust off the neti pot and stock up on Benadryl or Zyrtec. For dogs and cats, it can get a little tougher. Fortunately, we have some tips to help you keep your pets from suffering too much during allergy season.
Does your dog keep scratching or gnawing on itself? If so, it could be suffering from skin allergies, cases of which tend to increase during this time of the year. Other symptoms include:
When it comes to seasonal allergies, cats tend to have it easier than dogs do—they’ll just sneeze more due to irritation from pollen. However, cats with true allergies may show the symptoms mentioned above as well as:
Allergy season is the same for humans and pets. And like your own, you can anticipate when your animals’ allergies will kick in. Keep an eye on the pollen forecast in your area and watch for symptoms.
To keep your dogs from getting irritated by allergies, you can bathe them with cool water once a week and wipe their paws after they walk through a flowerbed. You might also leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking pollen into your home.
The most common environmental allergen isn’t pollen—it’s house dust and house dust mites.
As much as you can, clean dust out of your house:
If you’re thinking about giving your pet antihistamines and other over-the-counter medications, consult a veterinarian first. Antihistamines can help reduce itching, but they can make the animal drowsy. A vet can help you figure out the right dosage for larger and smaller pets.
Creams with hydrocortisone and oatmeal-based shampoos can help relieve itching in your dogs. For cats, you can try soap-free allergy shampoo and cool water to reduce the pollen and mold spore counts on their skin (but good luck getting your cat into the bath).
Whichever products you use, take care that they’re all natural. No parabens, no phthalates.
Fleas and ticks can carry diseases. If your dog or cat has allergies, they can be especially harmful. That’s why it’s important to maintain your pet’s monthly flea and tick treatment.
Liquid solutions like Advantage and Frontline have become popular because you just need to apply them once a month. It’s worth noting, however, that some pets have had adverse reactions to topical flea solutions. If you’re not sure how your pet will react, you can try these “green” options:
If Spring has passed and your pets are still itchy, the problem may not be seasonal allergies. Ask your vet about an inexpensive blood test to screen for environmental allergies. If that test is negative, the next step is to investigate food allergies. 85% of allergies are environmental, not food.
Food allergies (again, extremely rare) in animals can have similar symptoms to environmental allergies. Your pet could be allergic to grains, proteins or preservatives.
Your vet can help you figure out if your pet has a food allergy. They may suggest doing a food trial where you give your pet different kinds of meat (duck, venison, fish) and a vegetable. Until your vet figures out the allergy source, don’t give your pet treats or food from your table.
One easy step for handling protein allergy issues with dogs is to buy quality food for them. Purchase brands that list the protein type among the first few ingredients.
Also, try giving your cats more omega-3 fatty acid to keep their skin’s immune barrier healthy and reduce the risk of infections. You can either feed them supplements or cold-water fish like salmon, trout and sardines.