It is time again for spring! Richmond looks beautiful with all the spring flowers, bushes, trees and the leaves coming out on the trees! But for many people – and our pets – spring spells troubles with allergies.
Although dogs and cats can get allergies all year long, in the spring the most common allergies for people and pets are weeds, trees and grass pollens. To make matters worse, it is virtually impossible to eliminate going outside to avoid the offending allergens.
Typical Spring Allergens & How To Reduce Impact
Molds. Whenever possible, keep your animals out of the basement. Use dehumidifiers to remove extra moisture that can affect the animal. Avoid having a large number of houseplants
Pollen. You know this one — that green and yellow stuff that coats everything it touches! Keep dogs out of high grass and keep your grass cut short. Wash your pet’s feet and face when they come in from time outside so that when they lick their paws, they won’t ingest the pollen.
Though it’s hard to do, the best help you can offer pets who are allergic to pollen is to keep them indoors or only let them out for brief periods. If you walk your dog, steer clear of grassy areas. Also, it’s best to keep windows and doors with screens closed so pollen doesn’t blow inside. And be sure to change filters on air conditioners twice a month to cut down on circulation of pollen and other allergens.
Signs Your Pet is Suffering From Spring Allergies
The symptoms for an animal with spring allergies are usually different from those their human owners experience. People experience runny eyes and noses with plenty of sneezing. This is less common with dogs and cats. Instead, you’ll notice pets have itchy skin and secondary ear and skin infections.
The most common symptoms of spring allergies in pets are excessively scratching face and ears, chewing the fur, licking paws, sneezing, coughing, vomiting and no desire to eat. In general, your pet is uncomfortable. The excess scratching and licking can lead to open sores on the body which will need a veterinarian’s attention. The allergic reaction can come from inhaling the offending allergen or sitting in the grass, pollen, molds, etc.
If your pet shows signs of serious and/or chronic allergic reactions, your best course of action is to take him to the vet. She may be able to treat the symptoms in the office or, in a worst case scenario, she might refer you to a doggie (or kitty) allergist or veterinary dermatologist for testing to determine exactly what your pet is allergic to.
Many times allergy shots work very effectively to build up the pet’s immune system against the allergens so he does not have to go through the allergy season in misery. Some vets may prescribe steroids — which do work, but long-term usage is very hard on the animal’s system.
Typical over-the-counter medications are often recommended for seasonal allergies … antihistamines like Benadryl, Atarax, Tavist and Cloro-Trimetron. Consult with your vet to see which one will work best for your pet and always confirm the correct dosage and how long it’s safe to administer as a treatment method. Many of these drugs cause a sedative or lethargic effect and offer only a short-term solution.
In our personal experience with one of my dogs who was severely allergic to just about everything, including cats — we found that allergy shots worked the best. All he did was lick and chew on himself — we were all miserable.
At first, we tried the more traditional and over-the-counter remedies, but none of them worked for Herbie. Eventually, we did go to an veterinary allergist and after testing, we began giving him shots to help his immune system build up tolerance. It worked beautifully. So for stubborn cases I highly recommend seeing an allergist. Who wants a miserable pet!
In most cases, the spring allergies our pets suffer can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be successfully managed. For more information on pet allergy and atopy, look here on the Pet Education website.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.