Summertime allergies affect animals, too!
Animal lovers may be celebrating the arrival of summer, but for many, the season is synonymous with the “A” word — allergies!
Just like humans, companion animals frequently develop allergies. In fact, information collected by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York shows that about one out of every five dogs nationwide suffers from some form of allergy.
My cat, Tut, itches and scratches all summer long as assorted pollens in the air irritate his skin and drive him crazy. He meets my wife, Lois, at the bedroom door every morning, demanding that she brush and comb him to help alleviate the itching. I get the same greeting when I get home from work. We also feed both our cats a hypoallergenic diet, mainly because Tut is also allergic to many foods.
A recent ASPCA press release reports that an allergy is a disease that results from an abnormal reaction of the immune system to common substances. In humans, symptoms normally include sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Dogs and cats commonly lick and scratch, causing skin irritations and hair loss, and/or frequent skin and ear infections. These symptoms can make your pet very uncomfortable.
Dr. Jeanne Budgin, veterinary dermatologist at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, says skin disorders are among the most common reasons for visits to the vet. “Many skin disorders are a result of allergies,” says Dr. Budgin. “It’s extremely important for the comfort and health of your pet to determine the source of the allergy and treat it appropriately.” In fact, simply inhaling, ingesting or having physical contact with an allergen may cause a reaction in an allergic dog or cat.
Some common causes of allergic reactions in pets:
** Flea allergies are the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. The incidence of flea allergy increases in the spring and summer months, and if an animal is allergic to fleas, one bite may cause itching for up to three weeks.
** Foods can also trigger allergies and skin disorders in pets. The symptoms are usually skin related, but may include intestinal signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergy may exist alone or in combination with other types of allergy.
** Allergies associated with molds, pollens, house dust mites and other offending substances (allergens) cause a condition called “atopy,” an airborne allergy which results in rashes that cause itching and may affect animals.
** Tree pollens and grasses: Tree pollens cause most allergy symptoms. Grasses emerge with spring as tree pollens diminish. At present, oak and grass are the major pollens present in the environment. And while many feel protected from pollens, it is important to remember that pollens may travel many miles.
If you think your dog or cat may have allergies, talk to your veterinarian and discuss having your pet tested and treated.
For more information on how to take care of your pets this summer, check out http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer