Spring is in the air - is your pet feeling the itch?



Ahhh Spring.

There is nothing more welcoming than sunny days, chirping birds and flowering plants after a long, cold winter. The days grow longer and there is a certain frivolity in the air. In early Spring, the nights can still be chilly but the warm sunny days are so inviting. The knowledge that Spring has sprung brings a glowing smile to many.

Unfortunately for some, Spring can be a time of frustration. With the change in season, some of us are prone to allergies, which show up in the form of sneezing and sniffling. Our pets too can suffer from seasonal allergies. Unlike humans though, animals generally present with itchy skin. This is due to histamine receptors located in the skin of animals whereas the histamine receptors in humans are mostly located in the nose and upper airways.[1]

How do I know if my pet suffers from seasonal allergies?

If your furry companion has allergies, she will likely present with excessive scratching, biting or chewing of her skin. She may rub herself against walls, carpet and furniture to relieve the itchiness she feels. Itchy ears can also be a sign that your furry companion has allergies.

Hot spots can also develop (more so in dogs than cats). These are areas of the skin that are inflamed or infected. The skin might appear red with bleeding and hair loss.

Animals do also have some histamine receptors in their respiratory airways and they may present with symptoms such as a running nose, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing.

Other symptoms might include digestive upsets. Cats can also suffer cystitis (bladder inflammation).[2]

If allergy symptoms occur year-round, it is more likely that your furry companion has an allergy to her food or to something regularly present in her environment. If the allergic signs only show themselves or worsen at certain times of the year, such as when the seasons change, it is likely your furry companion suffers from seasonal allergies.

How can I help my pet cope with seasonal allergies?

There are a number of things you can do to assist your furry companion with seasonal allergies.

1. Give your furry companion weekly baths to wash away the allergens. A great wash for itchy skin is: 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of brewed and cooled green tea and 1 cup of filtered water. Just apply to clean skin and coat, massage, rinse and pat dry.

2. Wipe your furry companion's paws when they come in from frolicking outside so that they don't track in any pesky allergens like pollen.

3. The most common environmental allergen is dust. Be sure to clean and vaccuum your home regularly using natural cleaning products.

4. Regularly clean your furry companion's bedding using natural cleaning products.

5. Minimise the tracking of allergens through your house by removing your shoes at the door.

6. Invest in an air filter to help keep the air clean from allergens like dust and pollen.

7. It's important to keep your furry companion's immune system at an optimum. Measures you can take to ensure this include avoiding any unnecessary vaccinations or medications and feeding a species-appropriate diet.

8. Carbohydrates like grains can trigger and worsen inflammation. It's best to reduce carbohydrates in the diet if your furry companion suffers from seasonal allergies.

9. Add some anti-inflammatory foods to your furry companion's diet. Turmeric works wonders (see our blog on The Amazing Power of Turmeric For Your Furry Companion!) as does omega 3 oils such as cod liver oil or flax oil.

10. Coconut oil can also help with inflammation. It contains lauric acid which helps fight the production of yeast. It can be used both internally and externally.

11. If the allergy symptoms presented are digestive problems, try adding probiotics to your furry companion's food.

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[1] Pitcairn, R 2005, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, Rodale, USA.

[2] Obsitnik, V 2015, Springtime Allergies in Pets, The Animal Medical Clinic, viewed 4 September 2015, http://www.theanimalmedicalclinic.com/daily-blog/springtime-allergies-in-pets/.

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