Spring Allergies

After a grueling winter, spring has finally arrived.  Everything is greening and blooming.  It’s a wonderful time of year… unless you have allergies.  The air is being bombarded with pollens from the trees, grasses, and flowers.  If you have allergies you know what’s next:  sneezing, snuffling, coughing, watery eyes, sinus drainage, and general misery. 

Dogs and cats have allergies too, but usually they do not have respiratory symptoms.  Instead, they itch.   We commonly see two different types of spring allergies.

  1. Atopy:  This reaction is caused by pollens and molds inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  Below are symptoms ranging from mild to severe.   

-Generalized, occasional scratching with mild areas of inflammation. 

-Rubbing the face causing inflammation and possible swelling around the eyes.

-Inflamed ears and runny eyes.

-Anal sac impactions resulting in knock-your-socks-off odors.

-Severe keep-you-up-all-night scratching, rubbing, and whining

-Secondary infections; including,  smelly  weeping  patches with hair loss, ear infections which could lead to damaged hearing,  infected anal sacs that can abscess, eye infections, and even urinary tract infections.

  1. Contact allergies:  These are caused by the pet’s skin coming in direct contact with the allergen (mold, grasses, etc).  Symptoms can be mild to severe and tend to be in areas without hair: feet and the lower trunk in front of the hind legs.  These include:

-Mild inflammation with licking at feet and the lower abdomen.

-Severe inflammation of feet and lower abdomen with pustule formation, thickening, discoloration of skin, licking, and chewing.

-Secondary infections, including smelly, weeping areas of skin between the hind legs, severely inflamed and swollen feet that can become painful and make walking difficult, potential nail bed infections that can seed into the bone, potentially causing the loss of a toe.

The good news is that we can treat allergies effectively with an arsenal of options.  Treatments vary from case to case; however, what you need to take away today is the key for successful treatment is early intervention.  Depending solely on home remedies and/or pet store “medications” may lead to disastrous results.  Seek professional help.  That’s what we’re here for.

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