Spring means allergy season, even for pets

By Krista DeCarle

Spring is right around the corner and most of us can’t wait for the snow to disappear and warmer temperatures to arrive. Unfortunately for many, spring also means the beginning of the dreaded allergy season. Did you know that our pets can also suffer from seasonal allergies?

Commonly known as Atopy Dermatitis, it is the most common type of allergy in pets and it is usually seasonal. In the spring, our pets come in contact with seasonal allergens such as airborne mould, pollens and dust as they begin to float in the air.

Below are some signs that your pet may be suffering from Atopy Dermatitis:

• Chewing or licking their paws
• Reddened ears
• Reoccurring ear infections with odour
• Excessive scratching of ears
• Redness and inflammation of the skin
• Severe itchiness
• Sores and scabs from scratching
• Breathing issues (most likely in cats)

This condition may become problematic as constant scratching will inflame the skin and cause a secondary infection. This can result in hair loss, scabbing, skin having a crusty appearance and onset of infection. Once the skin has reached this point it needs to be treated by your veterinarian.

A veterinarian will be able to assess the level of irritation and work towards identifying the cause. This may require looking at other allergy causing agents such as food or detergents. Your veterinarian will look at timing of the onset of symptoms as well as where are the most affected areas.

Typically Atopy Dermatitis is located on the feet, groin, face and ears. Allergies may not be curable for your pet but they can be treated. Below are some treatment options. All options should first be discussed with your veterinarian to make sure they are appropriate for your pet.

• Medicated baths
• Supplements such as Omega 3 for skin and coat
• Antibiotics for secondary skin infection
• Steroid injections

Although some allergens can be avoided such as those in pet food, it’s almost impossible to control outdoor allergens such as pollen, as they are carried in the air. Seeking veterinary advice and following a treatment protocol that’s right for your pet will help reduce the degree of irritation and any pain associated with the condition. Then you and your pet can concentrate on what is really important — getting outdoors and enjoying the spring weather.

—Krista DeCarle is the owner of Royal Pooch Pet Services and is a pet first aid instructor for Walks ‘N’ Wags.