Understanding Environmental Allergies in Pets Living in North Bay, Ontario
Our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies, too. Since allergy outlooks are typically high in spring and summer, pets can be exposed to various allergens that make for an uncomfortable time. By the time the leaves start changing, allergy season has reached its apex. So how do yu help your pets overcome their symptoms? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Allergies?
When the immune system encounters a foreign substance, or allergen, it can go into hyperdrive to destroy it. In addition to this overreaction, the immune system can also become extremely sensitive to the allergen. Allergies develop after repeated exposure to the allergen. It can take a significant period of time for an allergen to trigger an allergic response from the immune system.
Environmental allergies in pets can occur throughout the year. If they already have a sensitivity to, say, pollen, but then they also encounter mold or dust mites, the immune system attempts a full-blown attack on the accumulation of all foreign substances.
Itchy and Scratchy
While some symptoms can mimic our own (such as sneezing and watery eyes), pet allergies typically affect the skin. Characterized by non-stop scratching, environmental allergies in pets cause varying degrees of:
- Itchy skin
- Hair loss
- Secondary skin infection on neck, chest, or anywhere they’ve been obsessively scratching
- Extreme licking and biting of the paws, causing painful inflammation
How Do We Know?
The symptoms of environmental allergies in pets can closely resemble the symptoms of food allergies (and some pets can have both at the same time). Environmental allergies, or atopy, is often diagnosed by excluding other potential causes, like allergies to a specific food, infection, or flea allergies. A change to geographical location can explain sudden environmental allergies in pets, and the season plays a big part, too.
As they age, symptoms can go from being temporarily associated with a certain allergen, like pollen, to a year-round challenge if untreated.
A Focus on Comfort
Environmental allergies in pets can swing between uncomfortable and painful. While there’s no cure for allergies, we can help reduce symptoms to manage their effect. Getting a handle on their itchy skin is a priority.
- Topical medications can soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and minimize itching. If necessary, steroids may be prescribed to treat symptoms.
- Bathing with cool water can remove the allergen from the coat, skin and feet, and repairs the skin. Hypoallergenic or medicated shampoos can help heal infections and reduce their frequency.
- Oral medications, available as tablets or chews, can be given daily or as needed to reduce inflammation and itching by targeting specific allergic pathways. Monthly injections, administered by a veterinarian, offer longer-lasting relief by adjusting the pet’s immune response to allergens. These injections are especially beneficial for pets with chronic allergies, reducing flare-ups and the need for daily medication.
Allergy testing, either intradermal skin testing or a blood allergy test, measures the histamine release and assesses circulating antibodies. This helps to identify specific environmental allergens.
Allergy shots of drops can train the immune system. Studies show that environmental allergies in pets are positively impacted by desensitization.
Always Here For Your Pet
Environmental allergies require long-term management. In tandem with year-round parasite prevention, your pet’s treatment for this chronic condition is part of their overall health and wellness plan.