When your seasonal allergies kick into overdrive during the spring and summer, you may notice your pet suffering too. But pets’ allergy signs are different from yours, which can be difficult for you to appreciate. Our Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital team is here to help you understand the difference between pet and human allergies by describing common pet allergy signs you should learn to recognize.
Did you know? Food allergies are not the most common pet allergy
When your pet develops allergies, you may think their food, specifically grain ingredients, is the culprit. However, pet food allergies are rare, and grain allergies are extremely rare. In fact, most pets’ allergies are a hypersensitivity to their diet’s protein (e.g., chicken, lamb, beef, dairy, soy). Environmental allergies are pets’ most common allergy type, followed by flea bite allergies. Pets with environmental allergies often experience a hypersensitivity to pollen, mold, and dust, but they can develop an allergy to any substance.
Did you know? Fleas can cause severe pet allergies
Surprisingly, pets who have a flea allergy can have a massive reaction to this tiny pest, because they are sensitive to a flea saliva protein, which can cause an allergy to flare up after only a few flea bites. Flea allergies often cause the classic signs of hair loss, itching, and scabbing on the hind end and tail, since fleas like to nest at the tail’s base. You may not see fleas on your allergic pet—cats quickly groom off the pests—but you may notice tiny black specks (i.e., flea dirt). Ensuring your pet receives year-round flea prevention is the best way to prevent fleas from causing a severe, uncomfortable reaction.
Did you know? Antihistamines generally treat pets’ allergies ineffectively
To relieve their sneezing and itchy watery eyes, owners who have allergies take an antihistamine, which calms these upper respiratory signs and dries up secretions. However, a pet’s allergies typically manifest as skin problems, making antihistamines ineffective. Pets’ allergy treatments need to soothe the itch response and battle skin issues. Therapies may include:
- Specific anti-itch medication such as Apoquel (i.e., oclacitinib) or Cytopoint (i.e., monoclonal antibody)
- Medicated shampoos and wipes
- Ear cleaners and medications
- Prescription diets
- Skin supplements
As your pet ages, their allergy treatment regimen will likely change, since allergies typically worsen over time. However, many treatment options are available to keep your pet comfortable and itch-free, and by adjusting their regimen, we can successfully manage your pet’s allergies.
Did you know? Pet allergies can occur year-round
Some pets unfortunately suffer from year-round allergy flare-ups, because they may have food or dust mite allergies, or flea bite hypersensitivity. Some pets who have only experienced seasonal allergies may begin experiencing longer allergy seasons, or may develop more severe allergy signs as each year passes. So, while your 2-year-old Labrador retriever may be licking and chewing their paws during spring’s first flush, as they age, they may also develop ear infections and more generalized itching throughout the summer and fall. Keep in mind that allergies fluctuate and change over time, so be on the lookout for differences in your pet’s normal allergy signs.
Did you know? A two-pronged approach works best for managing pets’ allergies
While administration of your pet’s at-home allergy treatments can effectively squelch their itching flares-up, following a two-pronged allergy treatment approach—at-home management and veterinary treatment—will keep your pet as comfortable as possible. Clean your pet’s ears regularly, bathe them with medicated shampoo, and provide skin supplements to decrease the number of allergens lingering on your pet’s skin and to strengthen the skin barrier. Running an air purifier and washing your pet’s bedding and other linens frequently remove dust and other allergens from the air, and can help. But, when your pet needs a little extra help coping with an allergy flare-up, schedule an appointment with our team.
If your pet is an allergy sufferer, watch them closely for allergy flare-up signs. As soon as your furry pal begins scratching, licking, and chewing, contact our Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital team for an appointment.