Spring Has Sprung: Managing Allergies in Pets

Cat and dog with allergies.

Ah, Nashville in the springtime–green grass and sunny weather. And pollen. Lots of pollen. Just like people, pets can have seasonal and environmental allergies. Also just like in people, allergies in pets are often not much fun. Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital has the best tips for you to make it through spring allergies in pets, though. 

Signs of Allergies in Pets

While people often suffer from runny noses, itchy eyes, and sinus congestion as the spring pollens flare, pets typically experience more skin-related issues.

Allergies in pets often manifest as:

  • Itchy skin
  • Biting, chewing, or licking excessively (especially the paws and underside)
  • Head shaking
  • Hair loss
  • Open sores or skin irritation
  • A noticeable odor
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Red, painful, and/or smelly ears or skin

Pets with allergies may also have respiratory signs including sneezing or coughing, although it is less common than allergic dermatitis and/or otitis (ear inflammation).

Many pets have allergies to fleas, which tend to be very prevalent in Tennessee. Besides these external pests being itchy and annoying, their bites can trigger an actual allergic reaction in some animals. 

Helping Your Pet Deal

If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from environmental allergies, there are definitely some things that you can do to try to help. Home care may be all you need to get through the spring pollening, especially if symptoms are mild and short-lived.

Be sure to try:

  • Bathing your pet well in a pet-specific hypoallergenic shampoo to remove pollens and help skin irritation
  • Having your pet groomed
  • Rinsing or soaking your pet’s paws often to remove surface irritants
  • Considering trimming long fur on the paws that may hold allergens
  • Consistently administering a quality, prescription flea preventative
  • Decreasing environmental allergens in the home by vacuuming or mopping often
  • Considering a home HEPA filter
  • Using an over-the-counter antihistamine (please call us to be sure this is a safe option for your pet)
  • Supplementing with a quality omega-3 fatty acid (please ask for appropriate dosing)

While pets certainly can suffer from food allergies, only about 20% of allergic pets have this as an allergen. Blindly switching your pet’s food is not likely to help; please talk with us before making diet changes. 

When You Might Need Help

Sometimes allergies in pets can become pretty serious, though, with secondary infections and intense discomfort. For many of our patients, our veterinarians need to step in and help them at some point in time. 

If your pet cannot get comfortable, has open sores, an obvious odor, or your efforts don’t seem to be helping, please make an appointment for us to help. 

Many pets who suffer from environmental allergies benefit from targeted topical treatments, antibiotic therapy, and systemic medications to help control itching and inflammation. 

Patients with more chronic allergy issues often need ongoing therapy. Because there is no one-size-fits-all cure for allergies in pets, it is important that we work together closely as a team to find the right therapy for your furry friend.

If you think that your pet may be suffering from seasonal allergies, don’t hesitate to ask for help. We have lots of options to help get your itchy animal comfortable and help them to enjoy the nicer weather.