Ease springtime allergies in your dog or cat
Nothing to Sneeze At Ease springtime allergies in dogs and cats.
The arrival of spring brings warmer weather, greener grass, and longer days to get outside and enjoy them. But with the rites of spring comes a dreaded wrong: hay fever, triggered by the pollen that blankets the great outdoors at this time of year. No matter where you live—an urban metropolis or the rural countryside—pollen can make life miserable.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies in humans include runny nose, itchy skin and throat, and itchy runny eyes. But did you know that dogs and cats are also susceptible, though their symptoms are di erent?
SPOT THE SIGNS
Animals can’t tell us they’re su ering, so we must learn to recognize their hay fever symptoms—excessive headshaking; scratching and biting at their own maddeningly itchy skin; and irritated, in amed skin, ears, and paws—and seek the help of a compassionate veterinarian before these symptoms develop into life-threatening infection. In people, hay fever manifests in respiratory symptoms, but pets experience pollen allergy through disease of the body’s largest organ: the skin. “Skin problems caused by allergies are a serious medical issue that can drastically diminish a pet’s quality of life,” says Heather Peikes, VMD, Dip. ACVD, a board-certi ed veterinary dermatologist based in New Jersey.
Veterinary dermatologists typically treat secondary skin and ear infections with antihistamines, and sometimes omega-3 supplements are recommended. Customized vaccines may be given based on the results of skin testing. e vaccine may be administered as an injection every one to three weeks, or as a sublingual pump (drops given by mouth). If the animal does not respond to vaccine therapy, there are medications that can provide relief. To locate a veterinary dermatologist near you, visit ACVD.org.
Pet parents can take simple steps to prevent allergies from progressing to the point where they require prescription meds and a customized vaccine. e
rst and easiest anti-allergy strategy is a diligent daily wipedown. Apply a clean, damp towel to dogs and cats after they spend time outdoors to remove pollen; do this every time they come inside. (Yes, it’s a chore; to make it easier, prepare stacks of towels and a jug of water right by the entrance door to your home, so there’s no tracking of allergens throughout the house.) Focus especially on pets’ paws and paw-pads, taking care to wipe between the toes, where pollens accumulate and cause enormous irritation. “Cats don’t love baths, but they do enjoy a thorough, full-body wipedown,” says holistic veterinarian Michele Yasson, DVM, who practices in New Paltz, N.Y. “It’s how the mother cat grooms her kittens, and it’s a great opportunity to bond with your cat.”
As for dogs, if your dog loves to go swimming, now is the time to indulge—and always follow up with a thorough towelingo to remove pollen residue, making sure to gently wipe inside ears to prevent ear infection.
POUNCE ON POLLEN
Remove shoes and outerwear when you enter your home so pollens aren’t tracked into the indoor environment you share with your pet. Grass cutting exacerbates pollen allergies, so when it’s time to mow the lawn, be sure all windows and doors are closed, and if possible, ask your neighbors to tell you their landscaping
Giving your pet local honey in small doses is helpful for pets with pollen allergies.