Did you know that pets can suffer from seasonal allergies? It may sound crazy, but it’s fur real! Just like some of their pet parents, many animal are allergic to tree pollen, grass, dust mites and other environmental allergens. Thankfully, like they are in humans, allergies in pets can be treated. In order to keep your pet healthy and comfortable, you’ll want to learn about symptoms of allergies in pets and options for pet allergy relief.
Signs That Your Pet Has Allergies
Humans often experience bouts of sneezing, itchy watery eyes, and runny noses in response to seasonal allergies. However, symptoms of pet allergies are quite different. Don’t assume that, just because your dog or cat never sneezes, he’s not allergic to anything. If your pet is constantly scratching, chewing, biting, or licking, then chances are that he may be suffering from allergies.
Pet allergies tend to be progressive. What this means is that, even if your pet begins experiencing symptoms only at certain times of the year, these symptoms are likely to get worse. Eventually they will probably effect him year round. And, as he continues to scratch and lick, he will most likely develop sores, hotspots, or other complications.
If you suspect that your pet is suffering from allergies, talk to your vet. He will be able to eliminate other potential causes for your pet’s itchy skin and can help you decide on the best treatment.
Pet Allergy Relief
Of course you want to do everything you can to relieve your pet’s discomfort. Thankfully, there are quite a few options for pet allergy relief.
Sometimes, providing relief for your pet’s allergies can be as simple as giving him a bath. America’s Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker once told me, “Your pet is like a giant Swiffer”! In other words, your pet’s coat acts like a magnet for allergens in the air and regular bathing can rinse these away. You may want to start by using your regular pet shampoo of choice, but if you need a little more itch-fighting power, your vet can recommend a medicated shampoo.
Obviously, this option will be much easier if your little allergy sufferer is a dog. However, many cat parents have been able to bathe their kitties, especially if they start when they are young. They may never enjoy the process, but they can get used to it, and the allergy relief they experience will make it worth it!
In addition to bathing, you may want to consider wiping down your pet’s paws, legs and “under carriage” when he comes in from playing outside. This will remove allergens he collected outside and prevent him from tracking them around the house–making it more allergy free.
Allergy Medication for Pets
There is a wide variety of medications, some prescription and some over the counter, that can be used for pet allergy relief. Your vet might recommend the following:
- Antihistamines. Pets can take many of the same antihistamines as their pet parents do, but you should still talk to your vet to determine the correct medication and dosage. Benadryl is the most common antihistamine used for animals with allergies, though if it doesn’t work for your pet, your vet can recommend other options. The downside to any of these is that they tend to lose their effectiveness after some time, and they can also cause side effects such as drowsiness, lethargy, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Corticosteroids. Not to be confused with the steroids that are abused by some athletes, corticosteriods are a stronger form of allergy relief than antihistamines. Although they can be very effective, they aren’t usually recommended for long term use.
- Immunotherapy. This form of treatment involves testing to determine the specific allergens that are causing a reaction. Once the culprits have been identified, your pet will receive regular injections containing altered forms of the allergens. Over time, this will desensitize his immune system and lesson or eliminate the allergic response.
- Immune Suppressants. Immune suppressants will prevent the immune system from reacting to harmless allergens. However, they may also leave your pet at greater risk for other illnesses or infections.
Allergy-Busting Supplements for Pets
If you prefer to try a more natural approach to allergy relief, you will be happy to know that the following supplements can also be effective for some pets:
- Omega 3s. Omega 3 fatty acids help to suppress itching by reducing the effects of the histamines released in response to allergens. They have the added benefit of contributing to a healthy coat.
- Biotin. Biotin, one of the B vitamins, is often used along with Omega 3’s for pet allergy relief. It is considered very safe and has no side effects.
It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works for your pet. But finding relief from the constant itching and scratching without forcing him to spend the rest of his life in a cone is well worth the effort!