How to Prevent Allergies in Your Pet!

I love spring. Flowers blooming, baseball starting, sun shining, and everything turning green really helps me get rid of the winter blues. However, the other thing that spring brings with it is allergies. Did you know that the grass, pollen, dust, and mold that can cause your eyes to tear up and nose to run can also affect your pet? Humans and animals can have very similar allergic triggers, but it is how the dog and cat respond to these triggers that can be very different. Some dogs and cats will exhibit runny eyes and nose, but most of them will become excessively itchy if they are having an allergy issue.

Is your dog or cat keeping you up at night with his itching, licking and chewing? Does he get “hot spots” or ear infections every spring? He may have an allergy!! Allergies can be frustrating because they cannot technically be cured. However, we do often successfully manage them. There are many great articles that talk about the signs and causes of pet allergies, but I wanted to focus on some things that you can do at home to help prevent those hot spots and ear infections before they start. Again, these are recommendations for PREVENTING ALLERGIC ISSUES. If your pet is already itching to the point of annoying you, call us for an appointment!

First and foremost, use veterinary approved, species specific flea prevention. Flea bites are one of the most common allergies in the dog and cat. We call this reaction flea allergy dermatitis, and it can make your cat or dog miserable. For flea control and prevention to be effective EVERY animal in the house must be on an appropriate preventative, even if they only rarely go outside. Fleas can be very difficult to find on cats since they are so great at grooming, but if you cat is itching, losing fur or developing scabs it is time to get them in for a consultation. It is very common for dogs and cats with flea allergy dermatitis to have significant secondary skin infections requiring treatment prior to the skin healing and returning to normal. Talk to your vet today about which flea products are safe for your pet and check out one of our earlier blogs for more information on parasite control.

Bathing your pet is another huge component to preventing allergic issues. Now, before I hear complaints about having to bathe your cat, hear me out. Any type of rinsing, feet washing or wiping down of the skin, coat, ears and feet is helpful if your pet has allergies. For itchy dogs, I often recommend bathing and cleaning ears at least once a week and using hypoallergenic baby wipes on the feet and belly in between bathing. For cats, the hypoallergenic baby wipes are great for regular fur wipe downs. Anything you can do to decrease the amount of time the allergen (grass, pollen, dust, mold) spends on the skin or coat is great. We carry some awesome products to help keep the skin happy and healthy! But remember, they don’t help your pet sitting on the shelf!

Let’s also talk about your pet’s diet. Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of skin and coat. The healthier the skin, the less prone to infection and irritation it will be. We may recommend fish oils for your pet. Fish oils have anti-inflammatory effects and are great for strengthening the skin’s natural defenses against inflammation (aka allergies) and infection.

There are many medications and products that can help your itchy pet. The most important thing is to be proactive about your pet’s skin. Do not wait until hair loss, redness or scabs appear to seek help. We can avoid a lot of complications of allergies by treating them early and with multiple approaches. Please call us today if you think your pet is suffering from the arrival of spring. Don’t let allergies ruin this wonderful time of year for you or your pet!