How to spot seasonal allergies in pets — and how to alleviate the symptoms

The sun is out, the flowers are blooming and it’s absolutely beautiful outside. Even our pets are eager to get out the door and enjoy the sunshine, but they may also fall victim to the worst springtime villain: seasonal allergies.

And while loads of us may be sniffling and coughing, the symptoms may look vastly different in our four-legged friends, according to veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson.

“Some of them will definitely present with the sneezy, watery eyes that we suffer from, but a lot of times pets will only present with skin issues,” said Nelson.

Some signs of seasonal allergies in pets can include chewing at their feet or rear end, rubbing their face or getting ear infections. Flea allergies are also prevalent this time of year, Nelson said.

To make matters worse, secondary infections such as staph or yeast infections may arise from pets chewing on their skin.

“If we stack on all of these allergies, they’re going to reach what I call the itch threshold,” said Nelson. “They’re going to release so much histamine, that they’re going to be itching and suffering from this.”

But there are ways to alleviate allergy symptoms in our pets.

Just like humans, dogs can also take allergy meds, though it’s important to talk to a veterinarian because “it’s a much different dosing than it is for people,” Nelson explained. She also stressed the importance of ensuring flea and tick prevention measures are in place this time of year.

Feeding pets hypoallergenic food and supplements such as omega fatty acids may also help with some of the inflammation pets experience, said Nelson.

Not exactly sure what is causing that horrible itch on your dog? Allergy testing is also available for dogs and cats, but it may not be worth the money.

“If they’re just licking or chewing or getting an ear infection once or twice a year, it’s probably not worth the expense,” said Nelson. “If it’s more than just seasonal, it absolutely justifies that expense.”

If allergies are miserable for humans, it may be even more so for dogs who spend time outside with their snouts low on the grass and flowers and have coats that can trap allergens.

Nelson recommends giving Fido a thorough wipe-down with a wet wipe to keep some of the pollen off their coat before they come back inside. “It will not only help the four-leggers, but it may even help the two-leggers in the house as well,” Nelson said.

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