Runny, itchy eyes? sneezing, runny nose? Sound familiar? Yes, pets can get seasonal allergies too. Rubbing their faces; scratching their ears or shaking their heads; red, itchy bellies, armpits and feet, can all be associated.
How do you know if they have an allergy or an infection?
Well, sometimes this can be a little complicated. Very often pets with allergies are prone to infections because the allergic reaction makes their skin inflamed meaning it’s natural defences are not as effective as they would normally be. Furthermore, because they can’t tell us “Hey, my feet are really itchy!” it may be a while before we notice they’ve been licking like mad and there is already an infection established. The best way to find out is to get your pet checked out by a vet. He or she may decide to do a smear, skin scraping or hair pluck to have a look under the microscope and find out whether there are any secondary infections. Treatment involves getting these infections under control, which may mean a course of antibiotics (oral or topical) and treating the inflammation to make your pet feel more comfortable.
How do you treat ‘Hay Fever’ in Pets?
As already mentioned, it may be that your pet gets skin infections, ear infections or eye infections secondary to an allergy. If you’re noticing a pattern, e.g. every spring “Chester’s” feet flare up, it may be an indicator that he has a seasonal allergy. There are supplements, such as Omega 3 Fish Oils, which can go a long way to reducing the severity and frequency of these flare ups. Some dogs respond to antihistamines, but for many they are not as effective as in humans. Sometimes a course of corticosteroids (topical or oral) may be necessary to get the allergy to calm down. Other medications, such as Apoquel, may assist in treating pets that have severe or frequent allergic bouts.
If you are aware of what causes your pet’s skin to flare up, try and avoid them coming into contact with it. For example, if you know that when a certain grass flowers it irritates your pet’s eyes, avoid going for walks through that area until it has stopped flowering. Giving their faces and bodies a wipe down with a damp cloth, rinsing and drying their feet after going for a walk may also help to reduce the pollen load. Avoid bathing pets too often as shampoos strip the skin of the protective oils that help maintain the skin’s natural barrier. Using a hypoallergenic conditioner diluted in water and sprayed onto the skin between baths can sometimes help too – speak to your vet or vet nurse about which products are most suitable. If their skin flares up in summer, clipping may help too.
Some pets may ‘outgrow’ allergies, but many don’t. If your pet’s symptoms are severe and bouts of inflammation are frequent and / or severe, it may be worth considering allergy testing and a course of allergy shots (immunotherapy) which work to desensitise the pet’s immune system to the allergen.
If you have any concerns about your pet having allergies, give us a ring on 0481 527 678 or email email@example.com.