The pollen count has been through the roof in Wisconsin and surrounding states, causing seasonal allergies to run rampant… in people. But pet parents remain curious: are seasonal allergies in dogs and cats possible?

One hundred percent.

Not only that, but because our dogs and cats can’t vocalize their discomfort, and because symptoms typically mirror other ailments – it’s sometimes tricky to get to the root of the cause.

For many human allergy sufferers, pollen is the usual suspect, which when inhaled results in those all-too-familiar unpleasantries such as sniffing, sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies in dogs and cats are a bit different, even if the allergens themselves are the same. Our pets not only breathe in pollen, but allergens also breach their skin.

Known as atopy – or atopic dermatitis – allergen proteins trigger inflammatory cells, and itching, infection, and a whole lot of discomfort can result. Because of this, when veterinarians treat dogs and cats who are experiencing allergies, the symptoms are typically not respiratory, but skin deep.

Obsessive scratching is a telltale sign, commonly affecting the following in dogs:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Armpits
  • Stomach
  • Legs and feet
  • Hindquarters

Cats, on the other hand, often itch around the head and neck, near their eyes, and occasionally their abdomen and at the base of their tails.

Scratching that Itch

Diagnosis can be challenging – especially because food allergens can cause identical symptoms. Flea allergies, too, are not to be underestimated. Experts urge pet parents to always treat their dogs and cats with a reputable flea and tick product to avoid complicating any diagnoses. And there is no quote-unquote test that points to the actual culprit. Instead, veterinarians must examine a pet’s medical history and conduct thorough physical exams, while taking factors like age, the areas of the body primarily affected, and the time of the year into account.

Dogs tend to become affected with atopic dermatitis between the ages of 1-3, while food allergies typically pop up earlier (before 6 months) or later in life (above 5 or 6 years of age).

Medications may also be administered to see if they have any effect.

Seasonal allergies in dogs and cats frequently react well to steroids that can suppress a hyper-immune response. The caveat is most veterinarians do not favor the idea of continuous use, but rather as a way to determine the cause of an allergy upfront.

Good news, however: Once the root of that itchiness is determined, there are multiple ways to provide your pet with relief, including medications, antihistamines, topical treatments like lotions, and even Omega 3 fatty acids, which are often paired with a primary treatment to reduce inflammation.

Allergy shots are also a possibility. Just like human treatments, small amounts of allergens are injected under the skin to determine what triggers our pets. From this, a serum or sublingual (under-the-tongue) treatment can be formulated to treat flare-ups.

Spotting Secondary Infections with Seasonal Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Secondary bacterial skin infections, like yeast infections, are common when allergies impact our pets.

It is important to consult your veterinarian if you believe your dog or cat may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Professionals can address the allergy, as well as any secondary infections that may arise as a result.

We all want our pets to be happy, healthy, and allergy-free. By consulting regularly with your veterinarian, you can ensure you are doing everything in your power to provide comfort and care. And for any of your boarding, daycare, or training needs, give the team at Green Acres a call.