When seasonal allergies have you sniffling and sneezing, you might not realize that your pets may experience the allergy symptoms. Dogs, in particular, can experience environmental allergies related to pollen, mold, mildew, and dust, but they usually do not have the same symptoms as humans. Your veterinarian will diagnose allergies in your pet and help alleviate them, but in the meantime, here are some facts to know.
Understanding Allergies in Pets
What causes seasonal allergies in pets?
Although pets can have allergies to food, insects, and medications, seasonal allergies are typically caused by tree, weed or grass pollens, ragweed, dust mites, mold, and mildew. These allergies usually pop up during the spring, summer and fall. Symptoms disappear when the allergens are reduced. For example, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to fall leaves because of the mold spores they carry. Once the leaves are cleaned up and winter comes, they won't show any more symptoms. Only about 15% of allergies in dogs are food related.
What are some signs of a seasonal allergy?
Although seasonal allergies tend to cause respiratory discomfort in humans, in dogs, the signs are different. Pet owners often take their dogs to the veterinarian for extreme itchiness that causes the animal to constantly scratch or bite themselves and are surprised to learn that allergies are the cause. Some dogs might have a runny nose or sneeze a lot, but skin issues are usually the primary sign of seasonal allergies. Watch for excessive scratching, face rubbing, licking the paws, red and irritated skin, sores from scratching, and swollen paws. Some ear infections are due to skin allergies.
How Are Seasonal Allergies Treated?
If your dog has allergies, your veterinarian may prescribe steroids to reduce the itching, and if necessary, antibiotics to treat wounds caused by excessive scratching. There are two newer medications your veterinarian may prescribe that are not steroid based. Allergies are an over reactive immune system to the allergens. Apoquel is a tablet given once or twice daily that decreases the over reaction. Cytopoint is an injection that usually gives allergy relief for 4-6 weeks and occasionally 8 weeks.This is an antibody specific to dogs that actually blocks the sensation that causes scratching. Depending on what your dog is allergic to these medications may be used on short or long term basis. Otherwise, bathing your pet with a soothing anti-itch shampoo and using a leave-on conditioner can help alleviate the discomfort. Bathing once or twice weekly with a medicated shampoo helps soothe the skin and washes away allergens. Limiting contact with allergens during the season can help prevent or reduce the reaction. Cleaning your dog’s paws after each visit outdoors can also help reduce exposure to allergens.
Are certain breeds more susceptible to allergies?
Any animal can develop seasonal allergies, and some allergies are inherited. Certain breeds are more susceptible to allergies than others. Flat-faced breeds like pugs, terriers, setters, and retrievers are generally more likely to have seasonal allergies than other types of dogs. The West Highland White Terrier is the poster child for environmental allergies.
If you suspect your dog has seasonal allergies, Dr. Douglas Foreman and Dr. Roberta Mauro of Cherry Hill Dog & Cat Hospital in Elkton, MD, can help relieve the symptoms and make your pet more comfortable. These compassionate and experienced veterinarians provide top-quality, personalized care to all their patients. Visit their website to learn more about their services and schedule an appointment by calling (410) 398-1331.