It is that time of year again. Yes, spring, and all the wonderful things that come along with it are here. This year has certainly been unusual with such a mild winter and an unseasonably early spring.
However, don’t jump the gun too soon. I am always chomping at the bit to plant some flowers and spruce up the yard. It never fails; if I plant flowers early in the spring, there will usually be a freeze and heavy frost afterwards.
This year my wife warned me about planting flowers too soon. She says to never plant before May 1. But, it was just too tempting since the weather was so warm and nice. Plus, working in the yard landscaping and planting flowers are my golf — my way of relaxing. Once again, three nights this past week have gotten below freezing and frost has threatened all of the beautiful blooms.
Although spring time brings warm weather and beautiful landscapes, it also brings miserable symptoms of allergies. It only took a couple of days working in the yard for my allergy symptoms to become unbearable. As you know, people’s allergy symptoms are primarily sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. Dogs and cats can certainly suffer the same kind of symptoms from allergies, but they are much more likely to have skin problems even though they can be allergic to the same things that people are allergic to.
People and pets can be allergic to such things as pollen from flowers and trees, grass, weeds, mildew, dust mites, insects, fleas, chemicals and food. Sometimes pets experience the typical respiratory symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing and itchy, watery eyes. However, most often, pets’ allergy symptoms are itching, scratching and chewing due to irritation.
There are four basic types of allergies in pets: inhalant allergy, flea allergy, food allergy and contact allergy. Regardless of which type your pets might have, they usually have some kind of skin problem. Certainly, on occasion, a pet with inhalant allergies has respiratory symptoms, even allergic bronchitis. Just like a pet with food allergies may have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. But again, more often they will have itchy skin.
Each type of allergy has a typical pattern of hair loss and irritated skin. For example, dogs with inhalant allergies usually lick or chew on their paws. Also, they may itch a lot on the underside of their chest and abdomen. Flea allergies in dogs cause hair loss and inflamed skin at the base of their tail and on their rear legs. Dogs with food allergies can itch anywhere on their body, but often they have reoccurring or chronic ear infections. Cats with food allergies usually have intense itching around their neck and head. Other allergies in cats often present with scabs around their neck and at the base of their tail.
Contact allergies are simply when a pet’s skin comes into contact with an irritant. The underside of the pet is usually affected because that is the area affected while lying down.
If your dog has seasonal allergies affecting him/her only during certain times of the year, that suggests inhalant allergies. Year-round allergies would suggest possible food allergies.
Pets often have more than one type of allergy. They may have inhalant and food allergy at the sametime. Those pets tend to be more difficult to diagnose and treat. Since pets’ allergies are so different, treatment is often very challenging. Most of the time, medications such as over-the-counter antihistamines, work much better for people than animals.
However, there are several different medications we use currently to treat pets’ allergies. Most often, each pet’s treatment protocol is curtailed to the individual depending on the type and severity of their allergies. Therefore, if your pet is showing any symptoms of allergies, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.