Ach-oo! It’s Allergy Season!

As plants and flowers burst into life this spring, so too do the symptoms of hay fever.

Humans are not the only ones who suffer.  Blooming plants, grasses and flowers can trigger allergic reaction called atopy in dogs and cats.  Atopy is similar to the hay fever that makes people suffer.  Your pet reacts to inhaled particles such as mold, pollen and dust.

Instead of sneezing, however, pets typically have itchy skin and will persistently scratch, lick and bite to get relief.  If the allergy is not treated, dogs and cats with seasonal allergies will scratch or lick themselves constantly, which can lead to problems such as infected skin sores that last long after the hay fever season ends.

Just as in people, pets inherit a predisposition to the allergy.

If your pet shows signs of atopy for less than 3 months out of the year, your veterinarian may prescribe oral medications, like cortisone, to control itching.

In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend a skin allergy test to identify allergens (substances that trigger the allergic reaction in your pet). Once these are identified, your pet can be placed on a schedule of injections of the allergens (allergy shots) to build up immunities in your pet’s system to stop them from reacting to the allergens.

Other treatments for allergies include antihistamines, fatty acids, medicated shampoos and steroids.

Allergies make life miserable.  If you suspect your pet is suffering from seasonal allergies, visit your veterinarian.

Credit for this article goes to AAHA and Trends Magazine, May/June 2011