Summer Allergies and Your Pets

Allergies are on the rise for both people and pets. And summertime is known to bring an increase in fleas and reactions to pollen, grasses and other triggers.

Typically, dogs and cats don’t suffer from runny noses and watery eyes, but symptoms that your pet could have a problem do include sneezing, wheezing, itching and scratching.

Because so many pet allergies are pollen related, pet parents need to take special note when their furkids sneeze and scratch incessantly. It’s not a good idea to let things go, hoping they will clear up. In fact, they can quickly worsen. Eventually, hair loss and skin lesions can occur in any location.

Veterinary dermatologists are able to diagnose what the cause of the problem is by doing what is called an intradermal skin test. In mild cases, anti-inflammatory medication works well. But severe cases may require “allergy shots” (hyposensitization therapy) over several months or years.

Antihistamine medications seem to work better on dogs than cats. So it’s a good idea to try and avoid offending allergens as much as possible by keeping cats indoors and by restricting your dog’s outdoor activities when the pollen count is really high.

The summer weather can also bring about an increase in both indoor and outdoor mold. Mold is a fungus that breaks down materials such as leaves, wood, dirt and food. Mold spores trigger reactions like allergic rhinitis or asthma and also produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — that musty odor that irritates eyes, nose, and throat.

Mold means an all-out war in the household, as you have to target all surfaces. For starters, wash infected areas with bleach to remove the visible signs. HEPA filters installed in the home will help to clean the air, and dehumidifiers will prevent mold growth. Infections from mold in pets are often mistreated because they have been wrongly diagnosed as an allergy to pollen or dust mites. While treating your dog for allergies might help alleviate some symptoms, it won’t be that effective unless you get rid of the mold.

Also keep pets indoors if the wind is blowing. And be sure to remove grass cuttings immediately. Aspergillus is a species of common mold found throughout the environment, particularly in dust, straw, grass clippings and hay. Infections can be nasal but spread throughout the body causing lethargy, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Thus, once again, it’s definitely worth a trip to the vet for proper diagnosis.

Another common factor that increases in summer is dust mites. It’s important to regularly vacuum all the places that your pets have designated as snooze zones. Be sure to include under the beds in the home too. Also wash pet beds and bedding on a regular basis.

And finally, irrespective of the weather, there is the big issue of our pets being allergic to first-, second- and third-hand smoke.

Third-hand smoke is defined as residual tobacco smoke contamination that accumulates in indoor living spaces and on hair, skin, clothing and personal effects of smokers. It’s now being recognized as a major contributor to the health risks associated with tobacco and indoor air pollution. Pets are very susceptible because they are walking and sleeping on such surfaces and then lick their paws or put their toys in their mouths.

The answer — make your home environment completely smoke free.

Editor’s Note: If your pet has fleas and ticks, get rid of them fast with SENTRY Fiproguard Plus IGR. It has an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and stops the reinfestation cycle. SENTRY Fiproguard Plus IGR kills adult fleas, ticks, flea eggs and chewing lice.

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