Just like us, dogs and cats can suffer from springtime allergies.

According to a survey conducted by Novartis Animal Health, more than 50 percent of pet owners don’t realise that their furry family member could also spend the spring season feeling miserable due to pollens and other environmental allergens.

Two Categories of Pet Allergies

There are primarily two types of allergies: food allergies and environmental allergies. If your pet gets itchy during spring or summer, it’s probably a reaction to seasonal, environmental allergens. Environmental allergens can build up and cause year-round allergies. But if symptoms continue year-round, it’s more likely sensitivity to something more constant in the pet’s environment, or to something in the diet.

Signs Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies

Unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, dog and cat allergies more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation – a condition called allergic dermatitis.

If your pet has allergic dermatitis, his/her skin will become very itchy. Your pet will start scratching excessively, and might bite or chew at certain areas of their body.

As the itch-scratch cycle continues, her skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.

Hot Spots can develop as well in dogs (hot spots are rarely seen in cats). A hot spot is inflamed, infected skin that occurs when your dog’s natural bacteria overwhelms an area of his skin. Typically the skin will be very red, and often there is bleeding and hair loss.

Other Signs to Watch For

Pets with allergies also often have problems with their ears – especially dogs. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed as part of a generalized allergic response, or they may grow infected with yeast or bacteria.

Signs your pet’s ears are causing irritation include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odour and a discharge from the ears.

While respiratory symptoms aren’t common in pets with allergies, they do occur. A running nose, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing are typical allergic symptoms in both two- and four-legged allergy sufferers.

Typically pets with seasonal allergies to ragweed, grasses, pollens, moulds and trees, also develop sensitivity to other allergens inhaled through the nose and mouth. Animals with weaknesses in their lung fields can develop sinusitis and bronchitis, just as people do.

Another sign to watch for if you suspect your pet has allergies is generalized redness. Allergic pets often have puffy red eyes, red oral tissue, a red chin, red paws and even a red anus.

Helping a Pet with Seasonal Allergies

Since the allergen load your environmentally sensitive pet is most susceptible to is much heavier outdoors, two essential steps in managing the condition are regular foot soaks and baths during the warmer months when all those triggers are in bloom.

It is also essential to build up the “skin barrier” in order to help cats and dogs fight off allergies. By building up the skin barrier and maintaining it there is a chance your pet’s allergy medication can be drastically reduced or even eliminated.

There are a range of new products on the market that will help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms your pet is displaying. Most of these are prescription only, so book an appointment with one of our Vets and we’ll get the problem sorted for you.