By Kim Rain
Published: 04/06/2021, edited: 06/02/2023
Have you noticed your dog or cat excessively scratching themselves? Has there been runny noses and sneezes instead of licks and purrs? Your furvorite fur buddy may have an allergy, and it’s up to you to help them feel better.
Allergies are common in dogs and cats, just like in people, and can be triggered by various foods and environmental factors. And while there are several ways to medically treat allergies in pets, reducing and preventing reactions starts right in your home. We’ve gathered together the top 5 things you can do to help reduce your dog or cat’s allergy symptoms, but first, let’s explore what causes allergies in the first place.
A dog or cat’s immune system is essential in fighting off disease and illness. But sometimes, it can see a non-threatening particle as a threat, and attempt to stop the dangerous invader by producing antibodies and histamines that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Once perceived as a threat, the allergen may then cause that response every time it is inhaled, eaten or touched. Some allergies may be passed down in a dog or cat’s genes, while others can develop from repeated or lengthy exposures to that allergen.
Whatever the reason, if your dog or cat is having an allergic reaction, they may be experiencing itchy, irritated skin. You might see your pet excessively scratching, or licking at their paws, and their skin can become swollen, reddened, infected and lose hair. Others can experience respiratory issues, such as sneezing, coughing, ear infections, or a runny nose or eyes. And some dogs can even have digestive problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea.
So, what can be an allergen? A lot, actually. Possible allergens can include:
A trip to your veterinarian and some testing can help narrow down what is causing all the problems in your dog, but how can you protect them against these common things that are constantly in their environment? Ideally, elimination of the allergen is the best treatment, but it may be impossible. However, you can significantly reduce your pet’s exposure to allergens through these simple tips.
Dogs love walks, and some cats love to roam, but outdoors is where many allergens live. When you can, skip the walk or keep your cat inside on particularly high pollen days. For all other times, create a wipe down routine when returning home. Using a hypoallergenic, pet-friendly wipe or moist towel, wipe down your dog or cat’s body and paws to remove pollen and other allergens.
There are so many allergens that get stuck inside homes, and get kicked up into the air often as we go about our daily activities. Reduce what your dog or cat can breathe in by regularly vacuuming, wiping off surfaces, washing curtains and rugs, and changing air filters. Running the air conditioner or a de-humidifier can inhibit mold growth. And don’t furget to wash your pet’s soft toys and bed regularly with a dye and fragrance-free detergent.
There’s nothing worse than constant, itchy skin. Once your dog or cat gets to scratching, the condition could worsen. Regularly bathing your pet with hypoallergenic, pet-safe shampoo can soothe their skin and bring instant relief, as well as wash away any allergens that are present on their coat or skin. Formulas that contain oatmeal or aloe are pupular, though your veterinarian may suggest a medicated shampoo if your pet is experiencing severe irritation.
Allergies to flea saliva are quite common, and for a dog with FAD, or flea allergy dermatitis, even one flea can cause issues. But it’s easy to keep those fleas at bay. By using flea preventatives regularly, such as topical solutions, flea collars and chews, you can prevent fleas from even jumping on your dog in the first place. While you are at it, prevent fleas from living in your yard and protect your dog or cat’s safe haven.
If your veterinarian suspects a food allergy might
be the cause of your pet’s symptoms, you could be undergoing a food elimination
trial, which usually leads to the elimination of a particular protein or
carbohydrate from their food going forward. Whatever kind of diet your vet
suggests, be sure it is a high-quality food, and ask about supplements. Probiotics
and omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with an allergic
reaction, which could spell relief for your furry pal.
With some extra care, and a bit of perseverance, you can help your allergic pet get back to feeling pawtastic again!
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