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Fall allergies are on their way. You may have already started to feel the effects of mold and ragweed, like itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Pets like cats and dogs can suffer from allergy symptoms too, and each pet will react differently to the changing seasons. Let’s examine the signs and symptoms to look out for, and go over some ways you can help alleviate your pets’ allergies and keep them comfortable this fall.
Common Environmental Allergens for Pets
Most pets will begin to show signs of allergies in year one or two. They occur when the immune system produces an outsized reaction to benign foreign substances.
The most common allergens for pets include:
Pets can also have adverse reactions to fleas and insects, with flea saliva being one of the most prevalent causes of allergic reactions. Insect and flea bites can lead to localized skin irritation, also known as dermatitis.
Pet Allergy Symptoms
It’s easy to write off your pets’ allergy symptoms as little quirks or habits. But pay special attention when your pet is showing any of these behaviors, especially after they’ve been outside or in a new environment:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Respiratory congestion
- Itchy flaky skin (pruritus)
- Hair loss
- Itchy ears
- Smelly and/or “dirty” ears
- Shaking their head
- Licking of the paws and rear end
- Patchy skin or other skin irregularities
Treating Pet Allergens
Protecting your pets from seasonal allergies can take some trial and error, but making these changes will go a long way toward making them more comfortable throughout the year.
- Flea and tick prevention: Find special collars and medicines that will prevent fleas and ticks from bothering your pets.
- Antihistamines: These medications are typically safe for pets, but be aware of the dosage you’re giving them. It will be different for humans and pets. Always check with your veterinarian before administering medication.
- Shampoo baths: Soothe itchy, inflamed skin with hypoallergenic shampoo baths. The rinsing and drying will also remove allergens from their coat. You can find dog-safe shampoos at your local pet store.
- Wipe off coat and paws: A simpler way to give pets a “bath,” a quick wipe off with a moist cloth after your pet is outdoors will remove allergens and keep your home cleaner.
- Avoiding allergens: You want your pets to enjoy as much outdoor time as they desire, but take precautions on days with high pollen counts and keep them from exploring too far into densely wooded or grassy areas.
- Fatty acid supplements: Omega fatty acids that are commonly found in fish oil supplements can strengthen your pet’s coat and relieve flaky, itchy skin.
- Air filtration: Dust mites can cause sneezing and itchy skin, so it’s important for your pets and you to filter the air in your home daily to remove common allergens.
Always check with your veterinarian before treating your pet. Other strategies may be required if their allergy issues persist.
Veterinarians can also help you identify if your pet has food allergies, which can be solved by changing the brand of food they eat and limiting the “human food” your family shares with them.