The ragweed is out and with it comes coughing and sneezing. For us, that is. For the furry members in our family, allergies to pollens and weeds in the air tend to cause a different set of symptoms – scratching, scratching and more scratching! Although cats and dogs can cough and sneeze from allergies, it is much more common for them to become itchy. Dogs may lick their feet, scratch at their ears or develop a secondary bacterial skin infection with little red bumps on their chest, belly or back. Cats also commonly develop scabs and sores around thier neck, back, belly or backs of legs.
If we suspect your pet may have an allergy we first always check for fleas. Allergy to flea saliva is common and unless your pet is on a monthy flea preventive medication like Advantage Multi or Trifexis an allergy to fleas is still possible even if we don’t find any on exam. Some allergies are mild and require only an antihistamine to control the symptoms – but always check with us before giving one as not all antihistamines are safe in dogs and cats! Many of our pets need a little more, like supplementation with omega fatty acids, medicated shampoos or some steroid medication to make them more comfortable until allergy season is over. Taking low doses of a steroid medication for a short time during allergy season can be safe as long as we’ve confirmed kidney and liver function is normal with routine bloodwork testing.
For our pets who continue to scratch once the frost comes….well, we start wondering about indoor allergens like dust or even a food allergy.
Allergies cause our pets to be at higher risk for bacterial and yeast skin infections and these can be itchy too, just worsening the problem! We always treat skin infections when managing allergies as this leads to more comfortable, less itchy pets.
Remember as well that allergies can develop at any stage of life!