As temperatures warm and nature starts to bloom, spring comes with an abundance of new outdoor activities for you and your pet. But wait, what’s this? Your buddy’s eyes appear watery, and he’s scratching more than usual. Do pets get spring allergies?
Yes, they do. And if you suspect your pet has springtime allergies, you’re not alone. An estimated 10 percent of dogs experience seasonal allergies every year. Cats are less likely to be diagnosed with seasonal allergies, possibly because they are more likely to be indoor-only pets.
Spring allergies in pets: a checklist for pet owners
Both cats and dogs can have allergic reactions to one or more environmental substances (allergens), including pollen, dust mites, mold, and even human/animal dander. Many of these allergens may actually be present year-round, but they increase in prevalence as the season changes.
Just as with humans, pet allergic reactions vary widely in severity. It’s also worth noting that these reactions can get progressively worse with time, meaning more severe symptoms each year.
Follow the checklist items below to make sure you’re covering all the bases when it comes to spring allergies in dogs and cats.
Know the signs of spring allergies in dogs and cats
Environmental allergies can affect the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
“Most people think of sneezing as a reaction to ‘allergies’, but sneezing can be a sign of a respiratory allergy, which is different than skin allergies,” says Aubrey Halvorsen, Trupanion veterinary technician. “Likewise, hives are typically secondary to an allergic reaction, like a bee sting.”
Allergic skin reactions can be quite uncomfortable for your pet and can cause itching, among other symptoms. If you notice any of the following signs of spring allergies in pets, it’s time to call the veterinarian:
Hair loss, especially in combination with other symptoms
Watery, red or itchy eyes
Have pet spring allergies diagnosed
Keep in mind that even if you’re fairly certain your dog or cat has seasonal allergies, it’s important to make an appointment with their veterinarian. A diagnosis of allergies can sometimes be made by your veterinarian after taking a thorough history of your pet’s symptoms and performing a physical exam. Certain tests may also be necessary to rule out other illnesses, which can have some of the same symptoms.
Likewise, if your pet has been diagnosed with allergies in the past but is experiencing new symptoms they should be evaluated professionally to determine if they are caused by progression of their allergies or a new illness. When it comes to your pet’s health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Follow a spring allergy treatment plan
If your dog or cat is diagnosed with seasonal allergies, their veterinarian will likely prescribe a treatment plan based on their particular symptoms and their severity. Treatment may also depend on the allergen(s). In many cases, your pet allergy treatment plan will include trying to limit your buddy’s contact with the determined allergen(s), if possible, but commonly medication and/or a specialized diet are also prescribed.
Always follow your pet’s allergy treatment plan exactly how it is laid out, even if your pet no longer appears to be suffering from symptoms. If you are unsure whether or not treatment is working (or how long you should continue following it), talk with your pet’s veterinarian.
Be mindful of indoor plants
Spring allergies are typically blamed on pollen from flowering plants outdoors, but the truth is that your indoor houseplants could be triggering allergic reactions in your pet as well. If you have any plants that flower this time of year, you may want to put them outside or in a greenhouse, if possible.
In any case, it’s a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about any houseplants you are unsure about when it comes to your pet.
Reduce exposure to outdoor allergens
Naturally, you want your pet to experience everything the season has to offer. So, totally prohibiting access to the outdoors or fresh air is out of the question. Veterinary care is necessary to prevent your pet’s allergies from affecting their everyday life, but in an ideal situation you may be able to take extra steps. All of these actions can help reduce exposure to springtime allergens without crushing your pet’s freedom:
Change your clothes after spending time outside
Change out bedding, towels, linens, etc. more often than usual
Wipe down your shoes after walking outdoors
Don’t leave windows and doors open unnecessarily
Clean windows, screens, windowsills, and doors frequently
Deep-clean your home regularly
Supervise pets outdoors at all times and steer them away from pollen-heavy areas
Keep pets indoors when weather conditions are especially dry and windy
Limit pet outdoor access right after you’ve mowed the lawn or maintained a garden (both can cause allergens to rise up in the air faster)
Use pet wipes to clean off your pal whenever they come indoors
Use an air filtration system indoors
Just because your pet spends a lot of time inside (or in the case of indoor cats, all of their time) doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk. Pollen and other seasonal allergens an easily travel indoors through open doors and cracked windows, not to mention stick on clothing and bags. Cleaning regularly will certainly help, but running a vacuum cleaner constantly can add to your pet’s stress.
While you should still keep up with routine cleaning (as mentioned above), investing in a home air purifier or filtration system can also help. Be sure to read product descriptions carefully to ensure the device you buy is appropriate for the room size you plan to put it in. Depending on how your pet reacts to loud noises, you may also want to look for one with quiet running settings.
Save your pet spring allergies checklist:
The thing about seasonal allergies is that they tend to flare up again every year with greater intensity. A pet spring allergies checklist is therefore a must-have for every pet owner. Besides helping you spot the signs of seasonal allergies in dogs and cats, it will also help you pack appropriately for outdoor adventures and traveling with your pet.
While you’re crossing off items on your spring allergies checklist, consider adding a pet first aid kit to the mix. Preparing for the unexpected is part of responsible pet ownership and will help your buddy live a healthy, happy life.