Springtime means the weather is warmer, the flowers are blooming and the days are longer. But springtime also means the start of allergy season. Many of us are familiar with the miserable feeling of watery eyes, and itchy noses but did you know our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies as well? If not you are not alone almost half of all pet owners are unaware that this unfortunate condition can extend to cats and dogs. The good news is with a little effort it is possible to spot the symptoms in your pets and help to alleviate the discomfort, allowing everyone to get back to enjoying this wonderful time of year.
The most common seasonal allergies in cats and dogs mirror that of their owners: ragweed, trees, pollens, mold and certain grasses. These allergies can peak in the spring, summer, and fall but may persist all year long. The easiest way to identify the potential allergy is to inspect your pet after they may have been exposed to the allergen. If your pet has watery or puffy eyes, is coughing, sneezing, scratching and shaking more than normal or is otherwise behaving differently, that may be a sign that they are experiencing the itchy twitchy reaction to the season. Grass allergies typically show signs on the paws such as redness and swelling. As always, if you are concerned about your pets’ reaction or behavior contact your vet for assistance.
Keep Your Pet Comfortable
Depending on the level of reaction your pet has to the season, there are several ways you may be able to help them to feel better. A good first step is to talk to your vet about getting your pet tested so that you know exactly what is affecting your four-legged companion. Once tested, you can monitor the levels of the allergen to reduce your pet’s exposure. For example, if your pet is allergic to ragweed, it can be helpful to know ragweed typically peaks in August and that you will need to be extra vigilant during that time of year. If the known allergen is growing in your yard, you may want to try to remove it. Certain grasses are known allergens for cats and dogs and removing and/or replacing the grass can lessen the seasonal toll on your pets.
There are several simple ways to help alleviate the effects of allergen exposure for our furry friends. During allergy season you may find it helpful to give your pet frequent baths to wash away any lingering particulates. During times of particularly high pollen levels, you can keep the windows shut and limit time outdoors. When your pets do come in from a short walk or time spent outside you can wipe off their paws to keep them from tracking the allergens into the home. Additionally, your vet may be able to recommend a supplement or specialized diet to help combat the symptoms.
Seasonal Allergies vs. Bug Bites
Be aware that sometimes what looks like a reaction to the season can be caused by something else. It is possible for cats and dogs to be allergic to certain bug bites as well; the most common culprit being fleas. Most symptoms of pet’s allergies present on the skin and appear in the form of redness, itchiness, and rashes. Be sure to rule out this possibility of bug reactions before treating your pets for seasonal allergies. Fleas and other bugs present their own unique set of challenges for pet owners.
Seasonal allergies in humans are a relatively easy condition to manage; the same should be true for your pets. Barring any severe allergies, your pet should be able to live and enjoy a very normal life given a few precautions are taken. Be sure to keep their fur and paws as clear of lingering allergens as possible to prevent extended periods of itching and digging. Talk to your vet about possible treatment options, and monitor the pollen levels during high pollen times of the year. As with all things, the best course of action is equipping yourself with the knowledge to identify and minimize the effects of the season. Spring and summer are the perfect time to get out and explore, and while allergies can sometimes stink, they are 100% manageable.