Does your pet have allergies? Vets explain how to spot them

It’s spring and for many people, that means seasonal allergies could be acting up. But did you know pets get them as well?

“Allergies are probably the most common reason that we see for visits, depending on the season,” said Steven Wolchinsky, a veterinarian with Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital.

He said that when people get seasonal allergies they cough and have respiratory issues. But for animals?

“They’re actually sensitized on their skin,” Wolchinsky said. “So what we see really commonly is dogs tend to bite, scratch lick, usually the feet are the most common, and their ears are very common as well.”

Christine Klippen, an emergency veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals in D.C., said, “Animals may be rubbing their eyes, they may be really watery.”

She said the itching may lead to other issues as well.

“Recurrent skin and ear infections are big clues that allergies may be at play,” Klippen said.

So when should you take them to the vet?

“If they’re getting up at night, and they’re itching a lot and looking or if you see them constantly looking at their feet and all that, then you should take [them] to the vet,” Wolchinsky said.

Klippen said to take them to the vet if the itching or rubbing doesn’t slow down. Then she said they will give you options for treatment.

“We will talk about using medicated shampoos because the medicated shampoos will make sure that the skin barrier remains moisturized and intact,” Klippen said. “We may recommend things like over-the-counter antihistamines, just be always cautious and talk with your veterinarian first because the decongestant varieties are quite toxic to pets. We may recommend omega-3 fatty acids.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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