What is Ragweed Allergy?
An allergic reaction occurs when your cat’s immune system begins attacking itself and an allergen that has entered the body either through ingestion, injection or inhalation. The most common reaction to ragweed allergy is itching that can be generalized or localized. Coughing may be noticed along with sneezing. There may be a nasal discharge or a discharge from their eyes.
Cats of any age and breed can be susceptible to a ragweed allergy. Medications may need to be prescribed for your cat during ragweed allergy season to keep them from experiencing the problems associated with their allergy.
Ragweed is a plant that comes in many different varieties and produces large amounts of pollen in the fall months. This is generally when you will notice your cat exhibiting the symptoms of a ragweed allergy. Even if your cat has never experienced an allergy to ragweed, they can sometimes develop allergies as they age. If you notice any signs that your cat may be having an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian for an appointment.
Symptoms of Ragweed Allergy in Cats
Usually when your cat experiences an allergy to ragweed it is not life threatening. However, your cat still needs to be seen by a veterinarian to ensure that there is no underlying condition that is causing your cat’s allergy. Ragweed allergy symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Redness of the skin
- Sores on the skin
- Chewing or biting at the skin
- Sneezing or wheezing
- Nasal discharge
- Ocular (eye) discharge
- Difficulty breathing
Causes of Ragweed Allergy in Cats
Ragweed is a plant that can cause your cat to have an allergic reaction. Your cat will usually have a reaction to the pollen that is produced from the ragweed plant. The pollen is inhaled either directly from the ragweed plant or wind borne.
You may not even realize that your cat is having an allergic reaction to ragweed if you do not have ragweed plants near your home. However, pollen can easily be picked up by the wind and can travel a distance before being deposited elsewhere. Ragweed allergies most commonly become problematic during the fall months when the weeds are pollinating.
Diagnosis of Ragweed Allergy in Cats
Your veterinarian will begin by taking a thorough medical background of your cat and will ask you questions about their environment and diet. If possible, bring a list of the ingredients in your cat’s food and any treats that you give them. This will help your veterinarian rule out any food allergy so they can begin looking at environmental allergens.
A physical examination will be performed. Your veterinarian will pay close attention to any dermal irritations that your cat may be experiencing as well as respiratory difficulties. A complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam and biochemistry panel will also be conducted to eliminate other possible causes of your cat’s distress.
Treatment of Ragweed Allergy in Cats
Once your veterinarian has determined your cat has an allergy to ragweed, their next step will be to determine the severity of the allergy. Some cats only experience a mild allergy for a short period of time; usually during peak pollen season. Other cats may experience more severe reactions.
Mild symptoms may not require medications; just close monitoring to ensure that your cat is not suffering from their allergy. An antihistamine or corticosteroid may be prescribed if symptoms are persistent.
More severe cases will require medications. Some cats may require steroid injections to stop the allergic reaction. Others will require only antihistamines and/or corticosteroids. An anti-itch cream may be prescribed for intense itching. If your cat is experiencing severe dermal problems, your veterinarian may prescribe medicated baths to alleviate itching.
Desensitization may be an option for your cat. The goal is to reprogram or desensitize your cat’s immune system to the allergen. As time passes, the immune system will not see the allergen as threat and will not initiate an allergic reaction. Your veterinarian can discuss with you whether or not your cat is a good candidate for desensitization therapy.
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Recovery of Ragweed Allergy in Cats
Your cat’s treatments may need to be ongoing or they may only need to be seasonal. Speak with your veterinarian about the duration of the treatments and what is to be expected with the medications that have been prescribed. If you are concerned about side effects of their medication, talk with your veterinarian about them. Be sure to complete all medications that are prescribed to your cat unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.