Spring and summer in Indiana can be beautiful. Flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, and the days are rainy and warm. For both humans and their pets, these warmer days mean more time outside – but also means more exposure to outdoor allergens.
This can bring about itchy eyes, runny noses, and feeling foggy-headed for us humans, and some other problematic symptoms for our pets. It's important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies in your pet, how to minimize their effects, and what to do to manage symptoms.
Spring Allergy Symptoms in Cats and Dogs
Seasonal allergies present themselves differently in dogs and cats than they do in humans. We typically think of runny noses, red eyes, and sneezing when we talk about seasonal allergies, but for pets, seasonal allergies mean itchy irritated skin. Typical seasonal allergy symptoms in pets are:
- Red, inflamed pads/paws
- Excessive paw licking (beyond normal grooming habits)
- Scratching at body and ears, chewing on feet
- Ear infections with no change in diet
- Red, irritated appearance of the skin
- Secondary infections of the skin
- Increased shedding, if severe can mean fur completely falling out in affected areas
- Signs of breathing problems in cats like coughing, wheezing, labored breath (feline asthma, usually triggered by poor air quality)
- Worth noting: some of these symptoms can also be present if your pet has fleas (and a flea allergy!)
Helping Your Pet Deal With Seasonal Allergies
If you notice your pet showing any of these signs of seasonal allergies, take notes. Indicate what symptoms your pet was experiencing, what the weather conditions were, where you were with your pet, and what types of plants were around, if you can.
Once you’ve compiled some basic notes on what may be triggering their misery, talk to the veterinarian about whether an antihistamine may be a good choice for your pet. Although antihistamines intended for humans, such as Benadryl, are generally safe and effective for dogs, don’t ever administer a medication to your pet without consulting the veterinarian.
In the meantime, some other ways you can help reduce the effects of seasonal allergies include:
- Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe your pet’s paws, legs, and undercarriage after going out to the bathroom to help remove pollen. Keep hypo-allergenic pet wipes on hand to use on your dog after walks or other exposure to allergens. Pay special attention to the paws and pads of the feet, as these are both some of the most sensitive areas and most exposed to the allergens.
- When bathing your pet, use a special anti-itch, soothing shampoo. Talk to the vet about how often to bathe your pet - while you do want to bathe often enough to remove the allergens and provide much-needed itch relief, bathing too often can cause other problems like dry skin - or the opposite, oily skin and fur in reaction to over-bathing.
- Avoid walks first thing in the morning or late evening, and stick to sidewalks instead of trekking through open fields or wooded trails. Consider having your dog wear boots on walks to help reduce exposure as well as prevent them from bringing the irritants home and indoors.
- If possible, generally avoid areas with dense populations of the plants that cause your pet the most trouble, and watch pollen and mold count alerts, available through The Weather Channel. If your pets' allergies are severe, on higher pollen/mold count days, you’ll want to find alternative ways to tire them out instead of a long walk.
- Vacuum regularly (at least once a week) and change the air conditioner filters frequently (every 45-60 days) to help remove allergens that have been brought inside. Wash their bedding in hot water weekly. Consider covering their bed with a towel during allergy season to make this job significantly easier.
If you would like more information about seasonal allergies and your pet, or if you feel your pet may be experiencing seasonal allergies, connect with us at Academy Animal Hospital for an appointment today!