Is your pet suffering from allergies?
Here's how to help your fur babies survive Spring.
As the saying goes, Spring has sprung. For many people, it's their favourite season.
We're coming out of winter hibernation, seeing some sunshine to warm up our days, hearing baby birds chirping away and watching as all the beautiful blossoms come out.
But for others, it's the start of allergy season. You know that seeing those blossoms, coupled with a bit of wind, means you'll be out for the count – sneezing, itchy and watering eyes – the complete messy look!
And if you live in Victoria, it's not the best time to be sneezing in public!
Did you know that your pet can also suffer allergies? My poor dog Hope suffers every Springtime from having allergies.
So, what are the general symptoms of allergies in pets?
If you see your dog or cat with any of the following symptoms during this time of year, they are likely suffering from an allergy:
Itchy, red or scabby skin that they are scratching or chewing at
Itchy, runny eyes and sneezing (much like human hay fever sufferers!)
Itchy back or base of the tail (indicating a possible flea allergy)
Itchy ears which may be infected
Vomiting or Diarrhoea
Chewing their paws, or swollen paws, coupled with constant licking
More snoring than usual due to having an inflamed throat
Your pet's allergy will generally fall into 2 categories
Not all allergies are triggered by the usual Springtime allergens. Allergies in pets are usually lumped into 2 categories:
1. Food allergies
If your pet is showing allergy symptoms all year round, they likely have a food allergy. And allergies can strike at any time during their lifespan. If your pet has a food allergy, commonly you'll find they have itchy skin, ear infections and gastro issues like diarrhoea. Pinpointing your pet's allergen is a game of elimination. Start by avoiding changes in diet and brand, then one by one, try different food sources to see what they react to.
2. Environmental allergies
These allergies can also present at any stage, however many of these allergens are triggered during Springtime. Seasonal allergies are usually caused by mould, mildew, pollen and dust mite (the same allergens for human sufferers). Other environmental allergens you should consider (and use the elimination process to determine possible allergens) include:
Tree, grass or weed pollens
Fleas or the flea control products
Fabrics and materials (such as rubber mats or plastic toys)
How to help your pet cope with Springtime allergies
Looking after your pet who has allergies will take a little extra TLC. To help them find relief from itching, you should start by regularly bathing them with a shampoo designed explicitly for inflamed skin.
When they go outside, wash their paws before they come back inside, so you're removing possible allergens from their skin before they spread it onto their inside bedding. Make sure you clean their bedding regularly using non-toxic cleaning agents and vacuum the floors to remove traces of allergens.
You should also make sure you're feeding them a healthy diet which is low in grains. Carbohydrates can trigger and worsen inflammation. And FYI, this is the same for humans!
Your vet can help you to determine the cause of your pet's allergy
After doing what you can at home to lessen the effect of allergies, I suggest you visit your vet. If your pet has mild allergic reactions, a vet may recommend an antihistamine and tell you the correct dosage for your pet.
It's true – a friend shares her hay fever tablet with her dog upon advice from her vet!
A vet will take your pet's history and examine your pet's skin and condition. If you've already tried a process of elimination, your vet may take a skin or blood sample to test for the allergen. They may also suggest an elimination diet, one high in protein where you need to follow the guidelines strictly. After a few weeks, you'll slowly reintroduce one food at a time and see if they react.
Treating your pet's allergies
Start eliminating possible allergens from their environment
Use flea control (best to start early) as it's the prime time of year for fleas to be jumping around.
Clean your pet's bedding each week and vacuum regularly to help remove dust allergens.
Bath your pet weekly with prescription shampoos to relieve itching and remove allergens.
Ask you vet about a special diet plan if you suspect a food allergy.
Your vet may also suggest certain medications which can help your pet with allergies.
Does your pet suffer from allergies?
I'd love to hear if you've got any other ideas or tips on helping pet owners relieve the suffering of their pet's allergies during Springtime. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Or have you found any products that work wonders for helping pets?