While it’s well-known that people can be allergic to various types of animals, pet owners are sometimes surprised to learn their pets can have allergies too. We hope to change that, especially since July is National Allergy Awareness Month. Before you can recognize and treat allergies in your pet, it’s important to know the types of things they are allergic to.
The shed skin of people and the dander of animals create microscopic dust mites. At a size of approximately 300 microns, they are impossible to see. In spite of this, house mites are the leading cause of allergies in both people and pets. When your dog or cat inhales them, it can cause respiratory distress and a skin condition called atopic dermatitis.
Fleas and Insects
Fleas require a warm-blooded animal host for survival. They get into your pet’s fur and can make her miserable by causing excessive itching. It’s never too early to start your puppy or kitten on year-round flea protection to prevent this. Insect bites are a more common allergy trigger in horses.
Your pet can develop an allergy if he regularly inhales the pollen from grass, weeds, trees, and plants. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early spring and fall, so it’s best to keep an animal with allergies inside until there is less pollen in the air. Horses may develop an allergy to hay, so be certain to look for possible indications.
Some dogs and cats are highly sensitive to the ingredients in commercial pet food, especially meat, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and yeast. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, our staff can recommend a hypoallergenic or grain-free alternative. Food allergies are less common in horses, but may include grains, grasses, or the additives in supplements and natural feeds.
Common Allergy Symptoms in Dogs, Cats & Horses
Excessive scratching and scooting, which is when your dog or cat scoots on his rear end across the floor, are two of the most common signs of animal allergies. Others include:
- Offensive odors
- Infections of the skin
- Rubbing the ace
- Diarrhea or an increased number of bowel movements
- Frequent ear infections
- Watery eyes
- Nasal drainage
- Difficulty breathing
With severe allergies, your pet may scratch so much that she creates bald spots on her skin.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before you can treat a pet allergy effectively, you need to know what it is. We recommend scheduling an appointment for testing if symptoms don’t resolve within a few days. Additionally, our parasite prevention and control program can help keep many allergies at bay. Make an appointment with us today if your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, and Dr. Greg will advise you on the best plan of treatment for your pet.
Photo credit: Neonci | iStock
Imagine if you had a heavy fur coat that you could never take off, even when it was 95 degrees outside. You would feel pretty miserable in a hurry. Now imagine what it’s like for your pet. Not only does he not have the words to express his discomfort, he is completely dependent on you to keep him safe in the summer heat. While prevention is best when it comes to heatstroke, you should know the symptoms to look for as well.
Dogs and Cats Respond Differently to Heat Than Humans Do
When you get too warm, your body automatically starts sweating in response. Dogs and cats don’t have this ability. They pant instead or release heat through the pads on the bottom of their feet. Their bodies automatically use a temperature exchange system known as convection to cool their skin. This means that they exchange the heat from their body for the cooler outdoor air. Heatstroke can occur when the air outside is not significantly cooler than the dog or cat’s own body temperature.
Heatstroke Prevention for Your Pet
Even if your dog loves riding in the car with you, keep her at home when you’re running errands on a hot day. It takes only minutes for the temperature inside of a car to become deadly. Here are some other tips to ensure that your animal friend doesn’t succumb to heatstroke this summer:
- Make drinking water available at all times
- Don’t put a muzzle on a dog who is outside in hot weather
- Make sure that your pet has plenty of shady areas to rest and play
- Use a damp towel to keep your pet’s body temperature at a normal level
- Bring your pet inside as much as possible and turn on the fan or air conditioner
- Consider covering your dog’s paws or avoid burns from the pavement. You may also want to put off walking her until it’s cooler in the evening.
Indications of a Possible Heatstroke
Sometimes pets still suffer from heatstroke, despite receiving good care from their owners. Unfortunately, animal heatstroke has a high fatality rate. That’s why it’s so important to recognize these symptoms:
- Panting more than usual
- Gums appear pale
- Tongue appears bright red
If you notice one or more of these issues, get your dog or cat out of the heat and contact us at Grantsburg Animal Hospital Immediately. Our answering service will page Dr. Greg Palmquist for all after hours emergencies.
Photo credit: pressdigital | iStock