Fall Allergies and Your Pet – What You Need to Know!
Cooler weather will soon be here in DC and with the change of seasons comes fall allergies. Many people don’t realize that dogs and cats are affected by the same allergens that plague humans. The difference between our pets and us is in how these allergies are manifested. While we can see red, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing; more commonly skin issues are the problem.
Allergies in pets usually present as itchy skin, ears and feet that can quickly lead to infection. When the skin’s natural environment is disrupted by constant scratching this allows bacteria and/or yeast to proliferate causing a superficial infection. This infection itself can then cause itching making the problem even worse. If you see red, irritated skin, small bumps, crusts on the skin or hair loss this may indicate infection is present and a visit to the hospital is necessary.
If your pet is itching without an infection present, you can try giving an antihistamine such as Benedryl, Claritin or Chlor-trimeton. You should check with your veterinarian about how much to give as dosing is much different in dogs and cats than humans. Also be sure not to buy a product containing pseudoephedrine or any other additive as this can be very toxic to pets.
Another allergy that is not such a big deal in humans but can be torture for pets is an allergy to fleas. Some dogs and cats are so sensitive that just one flea bite can drive them crazy and the itching that follows can result in a serious skin infection. Thanks to the effectiveness of medications like Nexgard, Seresto and Advantage this is relative easy to prevent.
If your dog or cat is itchy you can try giving an omega-3 fatty acid such as fish oil, like Welactin, or using a soothing shampoo. If the itching continues you should make an appointment to speak with one of our doctors about a treatment plan. Allergies can be a frustrating problem for both pets and their owners and it can take some time to find what works best to calm that itchy skin.
Dr. Ashley Gallagher graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and completed an internship at Friendship. She’s been on staff ever since and works on both our primary care and surgery services. Dr. Gallagher has her hands full at home with four dogs and three cats, who always keep things interesting.
*Featured image courtesy of Arizona Animal Hospital.