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Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

Ask any allergy or asthma sufferer and they will say they are dreading spring. While the warm weather is certainly something to look forward to, the allergens and irritants that come with it are not. During the month of May, and supported by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month is meant to help people who suffer from allergies and asthma. And while most people are trying to ease their symptoms, they may forget that it’s not only humans who suffer from allergies but pets, too.

Sneezing, a runny nose and red eyes are popular symptoms that people who have allergies and asthma show. Although pets can show similar symptoms when allergic to something, they can also exhibit signs of allergies through their skin. Common areas affected include the ears, face, armpits and abdomen. A pet’s skin may be itchy and look red, moist or scabbed, especially at the base of their tail, while their ears can develop ear infections. Other signs that a pet is suffering from allergies include paw chewing, swollen paws, constant licking and snoring that is caused by an inflamed throat.

Fleas are the most common kind of allergy for pets. Keeping a pet on a flea control medication is essential, especially for pets who are allergic. Wondering why a pet is scratching more after switching their food? The new food could contain beef, chicken, pork, dairy, corn, wheat, soy or other grains, all known allergies that may affect a pet. Fish is also known to cause allergy and asthma symptoms in cats. It’s not just food and flea allergies that could be causing a pet to show signs of allergies but the outdoors, too. Tree, grass and weed pollens, mold spores, dust and house mites can all cause issues for a pet who is sensitive to allergies and asthma.

Luckily, there are ways of easing the suffering of pets with allergies. The first thing to do if a pet is showing any symptoms of allergies is to take them to a vet. A vet will be able to test for a pet’s allergy by either giving them a blood allergy test or performing an intradermal skin test. This test is the most specific test to find a pet’s allergy. Once the results are determined, a pet parent and vet can begin to define a program to treat the pet’s allergy. It may be something as easy as changing a pet’s food, or something more advanced like allergy shots.

Just like with humans, there are other ways of helping a pet deal with their allergy symptoms. To clean the surrounding air in a house from pollen, pet parents can purchase a HEPA-grade air purifier. For dust mites, a weekly vacuuming or washing of linens, carpets and rugs will ensure that there is not a huge amount of allergen build up. Likewise, a dehumidifier will cut down on mold/mildew. For pets who are extra sensitive, pet parents should avoid smoking and using candles, incense and plug-in air freshness, which can all lead to skin issues.  

And who knows, if a pet parent is suffering from any of the same allergies as their pet, they are helping their pet stay healthy as well!