By Dr. Scott Pandya
Autumn can be one of the most wonderful times of the year – the weather cools down, the leaves change, and the hustle of the summer months finally begins to die down. However, the change in seasons can be a difficult time for pets who suffer from allergies. Here is what every pet owner should know about allergies in our four-legged friends:
Causes and Signs of Pet Allergies:
Just as in people, pet allergies can be caused by a wide range of factors. Environmental causes such as dust, mold, pollen, and grasses commonly lead to issues in our pets, as can food allergies. Parasites such as fleas and mites often lead to major allergic issues and itchiness. Remember, cold weather does not always eliminate parasites from the environment, and in some cases can even drive insects like fleas near buildings for warmth!
Dogs and cats can respond in many different ways to allergies. Common signs of allergies include itchiness, ear scratching and rubbing, paw licking, red skin, sneezing, and watery eyes. Pets that are showing any of the above signs should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine if allergies are at play.
Treating and Preventing Allergies:
Many therapies exist for managing allergies in pets. Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Zyrtec are used by many vets to control and improve symptoms, as are specialized diets that help to eliminate food allergies. Veterinary specific shampoos, topicals, and sprays are frequently used to help reduce skin problems associated with allergies. More powerful medications such as steroids may also be recommended as well depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms. Year-round flea control is often important for the prevention of allergies in both dogs and cats.
In recent years, two new medications have become available to help combat allergies and itchiness in dogs. Apoquel (a pill) and Cytopoint (a once monthly injection) are very potent medications that tend to carry fewer side effects than older anti-allergy and anti-itch treatments. These medications can also be combined with other products (at the recommendation of your veterinarian) to achieve maximum allergy control.
If you think your pet may be suffering from allergies, please contact us. We are here to help your pet be as healthy and as comfortable as possible!