May is Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month. And, while this observance is technically for humans, our four-legged friends can suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma as well. As we head into the time of excessive pollen it is important to know the signs of seasonal allergy suffering in your pets, and what you can do about it.
In our pets, allergies most commonly lead to skin issues. Allergies can cause itchiness, inflammation, and hot spots. Our pets don’t know when to stop scratching at those itchy spots, and may use any hard or scratchy surfaces they can to get relief. This can lead to hair loss in those spots. If pets continue to scratch in those places they can break the skin, which could become infected. This is called a hot spot. If you believe your pet has a hot spot please call your Veterinarian. Allergies may also cause itchy ears. If your pet is scratching excessively at the ears they can once again cause hair loss and infection. If you notice that their ears smell or have discharge that is a sign of infection, and once again you should contact your Veterinarian. While it is uncommon, some pets may have respiratory issues due to allergies. This will present as wheezing and frequent sneezing.
So, what can you do if your pet is struggling with allergies this spring? First, you can try to limit time outdoors, especially during the early morning and late afternoon when pollen counts are the highest. Try to keep your pet away from places where pollen likes to collect. These common trouble areas include the deck, and patio chair cushions. If your pet loves to lay outside you can hose off a section of the deck or patio for them to lay on. Even if they don’t have allergies, but you do, this is a great step to take. Another easy way to stop pollen from coming into the home is to wipe your pet with a damp towel whenever they come in from outside. Doing this for all pets, not just those with allergies, will be immensely helpful. Make sure that you are washing your pet’s bedding regularly. If you have large dog beds that can’t easily be washed, put a blanket or towel down over the bed. Then you can wash those as needed. If your pet likes to play with soft toys they should also be washed frequently. It is also a good idea at this time of year to vacuum or mop weekly.
If your pet continues suffer from allergies there are also medications that can be prescribed by a Veterinarian. Just like in humans, allergies in pets cannot be cured, only managed.