Take a walk down Tom McCall Waterfront park and the cherry trees shout that spring is officially in bloom. If you listen closely, you can hear the sneezes of humans and even pets as they enjoy the pollen infused atmosphere. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, researchers believe nearly 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies. Included in this count are some pet lovers who probably have a dog or cat with an allergy problem too.
An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance, termed an allergen. Dogs and cats may be allergic to fleas, food or specific allergens in the environment. Atopic dermatitis (atopy) is an inherited condition where dogs or cats are allergic to pollens, molds and house dust mites when inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. It is estimated that 10 percent of dogs have atopy.
Allergies can be extremely frustrating for owners who watch their fur babies suffering without relief.
The annoying sound of incessant itching at night, paired with the owner’s lack of sleep and irritability makes this condition a recipe for disaster.
Animals with atopy usually present itchy, licking the affected area, and with red lesions or rashes on the groin, armpits, face and feet. Reverse sneezing, red eyes and a runny nose may also be seen.
Animals older than six months of age are most commonly affected with allergies. At one to three years of age, clinical signs of itching usually begin. To determine what allergens your pet is sensitive to, an intradermal skin test is highly recommended. A veterinarian will inject small doses of antigens under the skin and then grade the area for signs of redness. The results will tell you what types of grasses, dust, meats, molds, etc. your pet is sensitive to, so that you can decrease contact or avoid them altogether.
If you are like me and have pets with allergies, all hope is not lost. Here are a few tips I use to prevent my fur babies from suffering through the spring. Wipe down the paw pads and body of your pet with a warm towel when they come from playing or exploring outdoors. When giving a bath, use products that contain oatmeal, chamomile or lavender to soothe irritated skin. Add omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids capsules, fish oil, safflower oil, evening primrose or linoleic acid to promote healthy skin. For mild allergies, give pediatric Benadryl dosed by weight before your pet is exposed to the allergen. If your fur baby suffers from severe allergies, visit your vet to get a prescription for a corticosteroid or allergy medication like Apoquel.
With the beautiful weather and bountiful florals before us, don’t get caught off guard by allergens. There are multiple therapies that provide lasting relief for owners affected by pet allergies. Hopefully by adding these tips to your life, you and your pet find spring pleasant and delightful.