Dr. Ryan Rucker, DVM and Zesty Paws Spokesperson
By the time March rolls around, we’re all sick and tired of the winter weather and can’t wait for spring to come in like a lion! However, spring also comes with an unpleasant side effect: higher pollen counts and pesky allergies for humans and pets alike.
Unfortunately, our furry friends are not exempt from the sniffles, sneezes, and itchy skin. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about seasonal allergies for dogs and cats.
How can I tell if my pet has seasonal allergies? And what causes allergies?
Just like humans, our four-legged companions are sensitive to environmental and seasonal allergies. Some of the most common culprits can be ragweed, grass, pollen, and dust. Molds and fungal spores can also play a role. Similar to pet parents, the most common seasonal allergy symptoms for dogs and cats include congestion, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, watery eyes, red eyes, and head shaking.
Why is my dog scratching?
Not quite as common in humans, however, is general pruritus, or itching. Most dogs and cats with seasonal allergies will let you know that they have allergies simply because they scratch, and scratch, and scratch. Sometimes, this can be mild, just because of dry, itchy skin, but sometimes, this can be extreme and end in skin conditions and skin infections. These chronic itch cases may require antibiotics if severe enough.
Additionally, if congestion is severe enough, your dog or cat may not be able to smell very well and subsequently might not eat as much, and could become lethargic. This is especially true in cats, as they are nasal breathers, which means they only breathe through their noses, whereas dogs can also breathe effectively through their mouths. The result of this in cats is often open-mouth breathing, stress, and a decreased appetite. Severe cases may require hospitalization to prevent dehydration.
How can I help my pet feel better?
If you notice that your pet has any of the symptoms mentioned above around springtime, it may be a good clue that they need your help. Mild allergies can sometimes benefit from over-the-counter antihistamines.
Your veterinarian should always approve drug choices and dosing based on your pet's health and body weight. More moderate to severe allergies may require veterinary prescription-strength allergy medications such as steroids or immune modulators. While pricier than antihistamines, these allergy medications classes tend to bring much faster, more efficient, and safer long-term relief.
You can do more easy things at home to help provide therapy. Consider bathing your pet to decrease dander, dust, and pollen that can attach to the fur and skin. It’s also important to keep a clean environment by sweeping and vacuuming regularly to decrease allergens in the home. And try topical eye lubricating drops – they can be helpful for your dog or cat to flush the eyes of irritants. Most over-the-counter human topical eye lubricants are safe for dogs and cats but, again, should be approved by your veterinarian first.
What’s the best treatment for seasonal allergies? Can supplements help?
So, how do you decide the best course of action is for your bestie to feel better if they have symptoms of occasional environmental or seasonal allergies?
Along with antihistamines, prescription-strength allergy medications, and cleanliness, another aspect to consider for your pet is an allergy supplement or two.
One of my favorite supplements is Zesty Paws® Aller-Immune Bites™. These are highly effective and work well with the earlier mentioned remedies. Aller-Immune Bites contain several components such as Salmon Oil to support skin health. They also include Apple Cider Vinegar, Probiotics, and Colostrum to support cardiovascular, gut and immune health. And Aller-Immune Bites is made with the premium ingredient EpiCor®, a whole food yeast fermentate that helps support the immune system. These lamb-flavored bites are grain-free and are appropriate for all ages.
A specially formulated version of Advanced Aller-Immune Bites™ is targeted to senior pets. It contains premium ingredients, including Quercetin™, which can help maintain normal histamine levels, and PreforPro™, a premium prebiotic proven to support healthy gut bacteria.
Your feline friends aren’t forgotten, either. Zesty Paws® now offers L-Lysine Immune Bites™ for cats.
So, though allergy season is quickly approaching, don’t fret! There are plenty of solutions to keep your dog or cat comfortable and provide allergy relief. Make sure to observe any symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, congestion, watery red eyes, and itching, and make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you notice any of these symptoms to discuss the best treatment plan and pet supplements for your fur baby!
Stay cool and allergy-free!