Spring!!! The blooming flowers, bright green trees and the smell of a freshly cut lawn bring everyone delight—unless they suffer from allergies. Allergy sufferers know the torture that accompanies each spring with runny, itchy eyes, sniffles and sneezing. Our pets also suffer from allergies, except that pets mainly itch, and they bite, scratch and lick for relief. The constant biting, scratching and licking are a constant discomfort to them and set them up for secondary infections.
However, there are things that we can do for our pets to make them more comfortable during this allergy season. First and foremost, we need to make sure they are flea-free because flea allergy is the number one allergy in dogs and cats. Secondly, cool water baths with a hypo-allergenic shampoo can bring relief as long as the soap is completely rinsed off. If itching remains a problem, you should consult your veterinarian. For short term relief and only short term relief, your veterinarian can prescribe corticosteroids. For long term control, veterinarians can prescribe antihistamines such as Benadryl or Zyrtec, or they can prescribe omega-3 fatty acids to decrease itching. For more severe scratching, veterinarians can refer your pet for allergy testing, or use cyclosporine (Atopica) or a new drug, oclacitinib (Apoquel). There is a lot of help available to control your pet’s allergies; taking advantage of those resources can make this the best spring ever for your pet.
By Bruce L. Hansen, DVM, DACVD
Dermatology & Allergy, The LifeCentre