How to Tackle Common Pet Allergens
It is an often-unknown fact that our pets can suffer from allergies as much as us humans. Just like people, when dogs or cats encounter a substance their body thinks is dangerous, an allergic reaction can occur, even if the offending allergen is completely harmless. In our pets, these allergies can show themselves through sneezing, itchy, weeping eyes, sore or swollen paws, excessive scratching or licking, hair loss and hot spots, discharge from the ears, difficulty breathing, and even vomiting and diarrhea.
In general, dogs are more affected by allergies than cats. Young or short-nosed dogs are often particularly affected by allergies.
Common Allergens that Affect Dogs
Often, dogs suffer from similar allergens to us humans. Here is a list of common allergens that affect your pets, how these allergens can affect them, and what you can do to ease the problem.
- Pollen. Tree, flower, grass or weed pollen can affect both cats and dogs. It can cause them to sneeze profusely, and pets may also experience itchy eyes, nose, mouth and ears. If your pet is suffering from a pollen allergy, monitor the pollen count daily and keep your dog or cat inside when the pollen count is high. You should also wipe their face and paws with a cleansing pet wipe after your pet has been outside to remove any accumulated pollen.
- Dust mites. These microscopic organisms live off the dead skin cells of pets and people. They can cause allergic reactions including dermatitis in both cats and dogs. You can remove dust mites by vacuuming regularly. You might also find it useful to freeze your pet’s toys once a week (in a plastic bag) as this will kill any dust mites residing there.
- Synthetic household products. Many dogs and cats are sensitive and even allergic to perfumes and cleaning products. If affected, try not to use these items near your pet, and with cleaning products especially, use in a well-ventilated area.
- Fleas. Surprisingly perhaps, many pets are actually allergic to flea bites. While all dogs are slightly irritated by flea bites, some will suffer from serve itching, leading to heavy scratching, hair loss and scabbing. Flea allergies often affect young dogs and puppies especially, but a flea allergy can occur at any age, and it can also affect cats. To tackle fleas, use a medicated treatment such as Frontline regularly, as well as flea repellent sprays and shampoo.
- Insect bites. Mosquitos and ants are the most common bites to affect your pet in the UK. Usually these bites are harmless, but on occasion they can cause an allergic reaction. This could be anything from itchy, inflamed skin to vomiting and breathing difficulties. In the first instance, apply a soothing cream to relieve the area around the bite. If you are still concerned, take your pet to the vet.
General Ways to Ease Allergens
As well as tackling specific allergens, there are many measures you can adopt to reduce the effects of allergies for your pet. Keep a clean house – vacuuming and dusting regularly for example can help keep fleas, pollen and house mites at bay. Weekly bathing with a pH-balanced shampoo will also help remove allergens from your dog’s coat. You could also try a fatty acid food supplement or topical hot spot sprays to help with skin issues.
There are no cures for allergies, simply long-term treatment and prevention. If you are concerned about your pet’s allergies however, or if they have had moderate to severe allergy symptoms for more than two weeks, take your pet to the vet. They can perform allergy tests including skin tests, and there is also medication available for severe allergies.