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Pet Health

Pet Fall Allergies – What To Do

Val Cairney September 30, 2022 90


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Hi everyone, welcome to this episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  So, we are now moving into fall, and I have had a lot of pet parents asking about things they can do to help their pet with symptoms of seasonal fall allergies.  Now, this past spring, I interviewed Joanne Carr from Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals about this exact issue as it related to spring allergies.  So, is there a difference between spring and fall allergies?  And what can we do?  Well as usual, let’s go exploring. 

Food or Environmental

Spring and summer allergies are quite common as we deal with snow mold as Joanne explained and also all the plants and grasses coming into bloom.  Sometimes we forget that fall is also a culprit for allergies.  Lately I’ve had quite a few pet parents asking what they can do about the symptoms their dogs in particular are experiencing.  And interesting, that a few times these pet parents have been told to change the pet’s food but as they have found nothing has changed.  And Joanne in her interview with me, talked about how to determine the difference between an environmental allergy and a food allergy.  The obvious difference is that the symptoms are specific to spring and fall.  So, when someone says their dog has particular symptoms now, but they go away through the winter, then it’s not food it’s environmental.  

Dog Allergy Symptoms

In terms of fall allergies, many of the symptoms are the same as spring allergies.  For example, according to bondvet.com, symptoms include, itchy skin, now this can be the paws that are itchy, belly and inner thighs, plus ears.  So, that’s how confusion can happen because itchy paws and ears are often a symptom of food allergies, so knowing if these symptoms disappear once winter hits is the only way to determine if you are dealing with seasonal or food allergies.  Symptoms also include red skin, rashes, scabs or skin infections.  Chronic ear infections or smelly ears, watery or red eyes, and possibly sneezing, coughing or digestive upset.  So, a dog could have any of these symptoms once or continue to have reactions every season, it all depends on how severe the reaction is and what they are actually allergic to.  

So, we know that when an allergen enters the system either through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, the body reacts by triggering the immune system to overreact to the foreign substance.  When this happens the body reacts with inflammation which can lead to the symptom of itchiness or redness or even hives.  The worst part is when the dog continues to lick the area that is itchy because this can cause a secondary infection as bondvet.com points out, with bacteria or yeast.  And this causes more itching.  So, yes, a vicious cycle.  

Fall Pollen

In the fall we are not dealing with the same issues of blooming plants, but there are plants that do release pollen at this time of year. Ragweed in particular does this.  As conditions become wetter and leaves are falling, mold increases and this is a big contributor.  And here’s one that isn’t often considered, but when the heat is turned on, dust enters our houses and dust mites which can also trigger reactions.  

So, the thing to do is to determine if the symptoms seem to always come up at the same time of year, or if this is a new dog to you, I think the first question to ask yourself is whether the symptoms came coincidently as the season began changing and has there been any issues with the food or treats the dog was ingesting in the past?  If not, going with the seasonal allergy direction is probably the way, but changing diet can be an experiment as well.  

Cat Allergy Symptoms

Now, what about our cats?  Well kitty is susceptible to seasonal allergies too.  According to weareallaboutcats.com, cats develop allergy symptoms similar to dogs.  Scratching, chewing or biting their skin, hair loss, redness of the paws and chin, and even sneezing or runny nose are all symptoms of seasonal allergies in cats.  Cats can be introduced to allergens through our clothing and footwear, or through open windows and again when the furnace comes on.  Outdoor cats will come in contact with allergens as they prowl through the grass or bushes or walk on surfaces, just like dogs.  So, if you are thinking your cat being an indoor cat can’t be exposed to allergens, well, that’s not the case so if your cat is experiencing sneezing or scratching all of a sudden, it could be the season.  

Helping With Allergies

So, when it comes to suffering through seasonal allergies, those that do, know how miserable it can be, and our pets can feel the exact same way.  So, what can we do to help them?

Well, Joanne Carr gave some great advice with regards to supplements to help with allergies.  Getting a probiotic into your dog or cat is always going to be a good thing but the other issue is to deal with the immune system and the inflammation.  In terms of supplements through Omega Alpha, Healthy Pet will address boosting the immune system and EZ Mobility will address the inflammation.  As Joanne pointed out, this supplement will address any inflammation, not just muscle and joint.  I like the idea of dealing with things systematically, by calming the reaction through getting the immune system to calm down as it is overreacting to the allergen. 

Dealing With The Itch

The next thing would be to help the pet deal with the symptoms to make him or her more comfortable.  There are medicated anti itch shampoos that can be used to sooth itching.  No more than once a week is recommended.  You can also use anti itching sprays, that you would spray onto the pet and then work down into their skin.  If there are actual areas of redness or even skin scratches or open sores, you will need to get a good topical ointment that will soothe and heal the area.  I like Nature’s Aid gel.  It is absolutely amazing at getting the itching to stop.  Nature’s Aid contains Witch Hazel which is also going to be a good tool in your holistic first aid kit, as it will also target itching.  Good grooming wipes that are fragrance free and hypoallergenic should be on hand to wipe down your pet’s fur after being outside.  This means dogs and cats.  As well, using the wipes for their paws or a good old-fashioned cloth wet with warm water for their paws is a must. 

If Things Get Rough

Now, if your pet is really suffering you can go the antihistamine route like Benadryl.  But make sure you follow the prescription for Benadryl with pets which is 2 – 4 milligrams of medication per kilogram of weight. Or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound. 2 – 3 times daily is the recommended dose depending on symptoms.  And the biggest caution is to make sure there is no xylitol in the product or the other name that is often masked as sugar birch.  Sugar birch is Xylitol, and it is highly toxic to dogs.  And we can also reduce allergen possibilities by keeping the house vacuumed, washing linens and pet bedding, and again, keeping your pet brushed, wiped down and paws cleaned.

If the pet’s symptoms are just out of hand after trying everything else you can at home, then you will have to consult your veterinarian.  Your vet may want to put your pet on allergy shots or at least work with you to create a management program. 

Summary

So yes, our pets can experience fall allergies just like in the spring.  There are things we can do to help manage the symptoms because as we know we can’t cure it.  But, with some helpful supplements to reduce the inflammation and boost the immune system we can be on a really good track to minimize the reactions, plus the helpful shampoos and sprays and wipes to ease discomfort.  And at this point I would like to refer everyone to the April 2022 interview with Joanne Carr from Omega Alpha talking about spring allergies.  Because spring and fall allergy reactions are so similar, Joanne’s advice and insight is vital to understanding what pets may be going through at this time of year.  The last thing we want is our pet to be miserable, so have a listen as I’m sure you will get some great insight because as I say, knowing is caring.  

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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