Helping Your Pet Through Allergy Season

For people and pets alike, the spring season brings along with it a welcome relief from the cold, harsh winds of winter and the endless shades of gray and brown that define it. At the same time, the beautiful budding trees and colorful blossoming flowers also usher in allergies that can irritate humans and animals alike.

As pet owners start stocking up on their own allergy medications and remedies, they also need to be mindful of allergy symptoms in their dogs and cats.

Allergy Symptoms in Pets

The allergy symptoms in pets are often very similar to allergy symptoms in people.

Common symptoms include:

  • Irritated skin: A pet who is suffering from allergies may have red, inflamed skin or dry, scratchy skin. As a result, they may overgroom certain areas creating “hot spots.”
  • Watery eyes: A pet's eyes may be unexpectedly watery, and they may even be itchy.
  • Sneezing: Yes, even pets will start sneezing when they are allergic to something in the environment.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: This symptom is most common if a pet has consumed a food product to which it is allergic.
  • Swollen paws: Pets that have allergies will often have itching on their paws, causing them to lick and chew. This can irritate the paws and cause them to swell.

Any allergy symptoms, whether they are minor or severe, should be reported to a veterinarian for further evaluation. 

Common Allergens That Impact Pets

Pet parents who are concerned about allergies should know the common allergens that affect pets — both inside and outside the home.

Flea allergies are the most common cause of allergic reactions in pets. A dog or cat that has fleas on its skin will scratch excessively. Because, the allergic reaction to the flea saliva causes extreme itching to occur. Flea bites can lead to itching skin, hair loss and hot spots that will not go away until the allergy is treated effectively.

Environmental allergens can cause allergic reactions in pets, as well. Pollen and dander in outdoor environments can lead to allergic reactions. Indoor environmental allergens can include perfume, household fumes and cigarette smoke.

Pets also are prone to food allergies, similar to humans. In dogs, more than half of all food allergies are caused by wheat, beef and dairy. In cats, nearly all food allergies are caused by dairy, fish and beef. Food allergies may present in other areas of the body, such as recurring ear infections.

Certain breeds may be more prone to specific types of allergies. It is important for pet owners to discuss an individual pet's risk factors for allergies at annual physical examinations. 

Treating Allergies in Your Pets

Any pet parent who notices the signs and symptoms of allergies in his or her pet is going to want to treat the symptoms. A veterinarian can help diagnose allergies in pets and can provide the right treatment for an individual.

Common treatment options include:

  • Preventative care: Veterinarians recommend providing cats and dogs with preventative flea treatments throughout the year to protect them from an infestation.
  • Topical solutions: For pets who experience skin irritations, topical solutions may be the most effective option. Lotions and specialty shampoos can help.
  • Medications and antibiotics: Pets with more severe allergies — or allergic reactions that lead to infection — may need to be prescribed medications to overcome the symptoms.
  • Diet: Some allergies may require a change in the pet’s diet—whether it be the avoidance of a certain food item or additive, or the introduction of a prescription pet food.

By recognizing the common signs and symptoms of allergies, pet parents will be better prepared to treat their pets and provide them with the relief they need. Pet owners who suspect that their pet may be suffering from allergies should contact their veterinarian for more information.

Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.