Speaking of Pets: Sneezing, snuffling and scratching, it’s allergy season
Speaking of Pets
You know how it feels when you launch into a sneezing fit that could topple the Empire State Building? As humans, we can reach for a tissue or pop an antihistamine. Our dogs don’t have that luxury. This time of year, allergies can wreak havoc on our canine companions.
A common culprit is fleas; in fact, saliva from just one flea bite can set off an allergic reaction. (It’s the saliva from the flea that creates the problem, not the bite itself.) Unfortunately, for every flea you see, there are likely hundreds of eggs and larvae in your home and yard.
That means you need to treat your surroundings as well as your dog. To keep fleas from developing, use a monthly flea-and-tick preventative.
Your dog could also develop an allergic reaction to culprits like weeds, pollen or anything that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Pups that constantly rub or scratch their eyes, face, ears, stomach or feet are probably suffering from atopy, or atopic dermatitis. Your vet can prescribe topical salves or corticosteroids to tame the itch, and antibiotics to cure any infection.
Allergies can also cause conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining of your dog’s eye; in addition to redness, you’ll also often see a watery eye discharge. Call your vet if you notice these symptoms, since untreated conjunctivitis can lead to permanent vision loss.
Finally, if your fuzzy pal develops sneezing, wheezing or a raspy cough that lasts more than a day or two, see your vet — chances are it’s an allergy, but it could also be something more serious like asthma or bronchitis.
But don’t be afraid to let your four-footed pal revel in our glorious springtime weather. Just stay alert for these allergy offenders, and you’ll both enjoy a sneeze- and wheeze-free season!
Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.