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Fall’s seasonal allergies for pets in NC often start before fall actually does. Ragweed and molds, which spike from around early September, are common triggers for dogs and cats, just like they are for people. For our pets, this generally manifests as dermatological problems that require management each year. Unmanaged, things can escalate faster than you can order a pumpkin spice latte…well, almost. Every fall, we see a lot of patients with allergies!
Symptoms of seasonal allergies in pets include itchy skin, smelly and inflamed ears, hair loss, scabbing, chewing on paws (especially in dogs), irritated chin (especially in cats), and all this can progress to bacterial or fungal infections if not treated. As you can imagine, all this is very uncomfortable at best, and since it will typically go on for several weeks with the skin condition getting worse over time, engaging with the problem is important.
We can’t overstate this: many of the medications that humans take are toxic to dogs and/or cats. Further, some medications that are safe for dogs, are not safe for cats at all. Don’t give your pet allergy medicine without talking to your veterinarian first.
There are some antihistamines that are helpful for pets, though, so definitely check with your veterinarian for a recommendation or prescription as well as the appropriate dosage for your pet. If things have already progressed to a more serious state with an infection, then an antibiotic and/or antifungal may be needed too. Which medication(s) and protocol should be used must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Since seasonal allergy management will likely be an annual need for your pet, asking questions and finding what works best for your dog or cat this year will benefit you both in years to come. This might include wiping down paws after being outdoors, finding a preferred soothing shampoo and bathing routine for allergy season, or even starting your fur-kid on a quality fish oil supplement with plenty of omega-3 to benefit skin and coat.
For a deeper dive into ragweed pollen specifically, check out our blog from last fall.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or to schedule an exam for your pet! And trust that we are still taking COVID-19 precautions during your pet’s appointment to keep everyone safe.