Pets, Autumn and Allergies
Tis the season – itching, scratching, licking of paws.
Yup, it’s autumn allergy season for our pets!
Many people associate spring-time with the blooming and new growth of plants and flowers as allergy season, but for some, including my dog Edie, autumn causes skin itch and irritation.
Autumn is our favourite time of year, the perfect pug weather for long walks and being outside.There is nothing more impressive or picturesque than my maple trees displaying beautiful red and golden yellow leaves come autumn, but those wet moldy leaves, in combination with our pine trees and wet grass, play havoc on my dog Edie’s skin.
For several years I was able to sooth and control Edie’s allergic skin itch with regular bathing – at the peak of allergy season, bath time could be as frequent as every other week. When bathing alone could no longer keep my dog comfortable, her vet prescribed a medication to ease Edie’s allergy symptoms and prevent her from developing hot spots/sores and skin infections from all her licking and scratching.
Information within this post is not a substitute for veterinarian care. If your pet is experiencing any health issues, consult your veterinarian.
Vet Chat with Dr. Ryan Llera
On this episode of Vet Chat – Dr. Ryan Llera discusses the topic of pets and allergies. Dr. Llera tells us what we need to know about allergies, the different types of allergies, how we can help our pets, and when it’s time to seek advice from our veterinarian.
Allergies Season and our Pets
Falling leaves, sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything, piles of pet hair, and the sound of incessant scratching or chewing from your family pet. Yep, it’s not just autumn, it’s allergy season. While it affects you, it can also be affecting your pets. Unchecked, allergies affecting our pet’s skin can lead to pain or infections.
Allergies can cause some typical allergy issues for our pets, like sneezing, runny eyes, and many skin or ear issues, especially those problems that seem to carry on for awhile. Fortunately, many of these are seasonal or temporary issues that might only pop up for a few months though for some pets, problems will carry on year round. Some of the typical offenders are fleas, grasses, weeds, and trees, particularly around the time of blooms or in the fall. A less common allergens that might not be considered are house dust mites. Year round allergy problems in our pets might very well be due to food.
Manage Your Pet’s Allergies Before They Get Out Of Control
Keeping your pets from getting exposed to the allergens in the first place is the best way to help them out. Yet, this is unrealistic so all we can do is minimize exposure and manage the signs before they get out of control and make your pet uncomfortable. This part is multi-factorial.
Antihistamines have a variable effect but have virtually no side effects. Other types of medications tend to be more effective and can have no side effects or an extensive list.
Steroids are one of those really good medications but cause increased amounts of drinking, urination, & appetite, slower regrowth of hair, thinning of skin and muscle wasting, and in some cases can cause aggression in our pets.
A newer group of medications works on blocking certain parts of the immune system without all the side effects of steroids. And even if you don’t see fleas, it’s advisable to be 100% sure by using a topical or chewable product from your veterinarian that will kill the fleas.
Food Allergies and Pets
Two more prolonged ways of treating allergies in our pets (depending on the cause) are hyposensitization therapy and food trials.
Hyposensitization therapy works by repeatedly exposing the body to micro-doses of the allergen thereby essentially build a level of immunity. After testing for which allergens are the problem, treatment can be given to our pets orally or by injection, at first shorter intervals and later only once monthly. If a food allergy is determined to be the problem for your pet, a diet change will be in order for at least 8-12 weeks. The common belief is that grains are an issue but the fact is that the protein source is most typically the problem in our pets and occasionally the carbohydrate source. A diet recommendation from your veterinarian can help your dog or cat and current options might include kangaroo, crocodile, or a hydrolyzed protein (it’s been broken down so the body doesn’t recognize it as the offending allergen).
Consult with you Veterinarian
As a last note, I want to add that you should never give any medications to your pets without first consulting your veterinarian. Go check out your pet’s coat & skin and maybe it’s time for that bath. If they seem to have that runny nose, watery or puffy eyes, it’s time to start investigating what you can do to help them out.
Do your pets suffer from seasonal allergies?
What solutions have you used to make them more comfortable?