Helping your furry friend cope with allergies
While Allergy Awareness Week (26 – 30 April) is an important time to highlight the difficulties many of us face with allergies, we mustn’t forget that our precious pets can suffer from these reactions too.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Just like us, pets can develop allergies to many different things and it’s essential we understand how to help them cope with the symptoms. There are signs we can look out for to help identify a possible allergy, and steps we can take to help manage them and keep our pets happy and healthy.
Signs your pet has an allergy
“There are many different signs that could indicate your pet is suffering from an allergy. The most common symptoms to watch out for are itchy skin, rashes, sore or broken skin, patchy fur loss, scabs, runny eyes, itchy ears, or frequently licking or biting in one area. Additionally, aside from skin irritation some allergies can trigger vomiting or diarrhoea. However, there can be many other causes of these symptoms, so it’s important to get a diagnosis from your vet.
What can cause my pet to have an allergy?
“Food allergies can develop when your pet’s immune system overreacts to an ingredient in their diet – for example, dogs and cats can be allergic to certain proteins, which can trigger an adverse response.
“Things in our environment can also trigger an allergic response in our pets, such as house mites, fleas and mould. Pollen can be a huge contributor to allergies in pets, so it helps to know when the highest count falls – for example, tree pollen is highest in March and April, while grass pollen is highest in May, June, and July, and your pet’s symptoms may be worse at these times.
Helping your pet through their allergy
“If your pet has allergies, they will need life-long management and treatment to help them live a perfectly normal, happy life. It’s always best to talk to your vet if your furry friend is suffering so they can advise on the best treatment. Treatment is different for each pet and their needs, but can include avoiding triggers where possible, ensuring strict flea control, implementing a special diet, using medicated shampoos or administering medication.
“Dependant on what your pet is allergic to, you can help avoid triggers with simple measures like regularly vacuuming and dusting your home, wiping your pet down with a damp cloth to remove pollen after being outside and making sure all pets in the home are treated regularly for fleas. Give any medication your vet prescribes to your pet, including shampoos, as directed and if your vet recommends a special diet, be sure to stick to it.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk