May is such a beautiful time during the year. The sun is shining, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the beauty of Spring without experiencing redness, itchiness, congestion and loads of other symptoms. Allergy season is here you may not be the only one in your home suffering. Your dog or cat can also have reactions to pollen and other environmental allergens, making them uncomfortable and unhappy. As with people, animals’ immune systems can start to perceive pollen as a threat, causing a negative reaction.
Symptoms of Allergies in Pets
Dogs and cats show allergy symptoms similar to humans, yet they experience them most through their skin. Excessive scratching likely means itchy, irritated skin. Here are a few more symptoms to watch out for:
- Scratching and biting their coat or skin
- Red, inflamed, or infected skin
- Excessive shedding
- Compulsive paw licking in dogs
- Boot scoots or licking their anal glands
- Chronic ear infections or red, waxy ears (common for dogs who are prone to ear problems in the first place)
- Respiratory issues, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing (more common in cats)
How To Treat Your Pet’s Allergies
Like humans, there’s no cure for your pet’s seasonal allergies. But that doesn’t mean they have to suffer. There are many ways to soothe your pet’s symptoms, including natural remedies.
- Over-the-counter anti-histamines. Allergy medicines that are safe for your pet include Benedryl (diphendyrmine), Claritin (loraditine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Chlor Trimton (chlorpheniramine). These medications work best as preventatives, so start giving them at the beginning of the season. The dosage depends on your pet’s unique needs and their weight so check with your veterinarian before administering.
- NOTE: Never give your pet a decongestant or anything that contains pseudoephedrine (like Claritin-D). Even small amounts of pseudoephedrine can be lethal in dogs!!
- Flea and tick preventatives. Make sure you are using a preventative all year round to ensure your best friend’s skin won’t be irritated by fleas.
- Anti-itch sprays or creams. Topical treatments will provide temporary relief, giving your pet a break from all that scratching. Only use products that are made for pets, as products marketed for humans may be ineffective or toxic to your furry friend.
- Baths. If your pet likes baths, you’re lucky. If they aren’t a fan, get those treats ready. Baths remove allergens or pollen on your pet’s skin, relieving symptoms and soothing skin. Look for shampoos containing oatmeal, which helps to moisturize skin, ease itching, and minimize inflammation. Again, only use shampoos and soaps made for pets. Animals and humans have a different pH level, so products made for people can cause additional irritation to pets.
- Wipe off coat and paws. Similar to a bath, a quick wipe down of your pet’s coat, skin, and paws each time they return from outdoors will help remove excess pollen and allergens when a full bath isn’t possible. Use a moist cloth or hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe. This may be especially helpful if your pet’s irritation is localized to their paws.
- Fatty acid supplements. Omega fatty acids found in many fish oil supplements are another way to relieve itchy skin or prevent skin infection. Plus, they’ll help strengthen and soften your pet’s coat.
- Local honey. This tip is strictly for dog owners. Local honey is often made from the same pollen that causes seasonal allergies. The idea is that by ingesting the honey, you or your dog will become more accustomed to the pollen. As a result, your allergies will be less bothersome. However, there is no proof this actually works. Thankfully, honey is a sweet treat for both you and your dog, so it can’t hurt to try.
- Avoid allergens. The best way to relieve or reduce symptoms is to reduce exposure. This might be the toughest option as it’s hard to keep a dog or an outdoor cat from going outside, but limiting time outdoors on high-pollen days will help manage symptoms.
- Prescriptions. If your pet’s allergies are severe, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-itch medications, medicated shampoos and, in severe cases, steroids.
We know watching your animal suffer from allergies can be just as difficult as dealing with them yourself. No matter what method works best for you, we hope your pet is back to wanting extra belly scratches for pleasure — not allergy relief — in no time!