If you haven’t experienced itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, or a cacophony of sneezes just yet, then count yourself one of the lucky few. With the change of season comes pollen, unleashing all sorts of allergies on not only us, but our pets too.
Environmental allergens can be just as frustrating for dogs and cats, says Dr. Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. More than half of dog allergies are triggered by the world around them – pollen, mould spores, and house dust mites that unfortunately lurk year-round. However, he adds, there are some small and simple changes we can make to ease our pets’ allergy blues.
If you think your pet is suffering from allergies there are certain behaviours you can look out for. If your dog can't stop scratching, itching, licking, or rubbing, there might be an underlying skin issue. When it comes to cats, however, picking up signs of a skin condition can be a bit trickier. If you’re a cat parent, you’ll know the effort your cat takes to keep clean, plus cats are masters of disguise. Unlike humans with ‘head symptoms’ like runny noses and watery eyes, allergies in dogs and cats mostly manifest as skin changes.
Common symptoms of skin problems in both dogs and cats include:
Itching, scratching, licking, or rubbing (this is the first sign that sometimes goes unnoticed)
Flaky or scaly skin patches
Red patches, spots, or pimples
Scabs, crusts, or thickened skin
A not-so-pleasant skin odour
Dr. Fyvie advises the following for an all-round happier pet:
Vet visit: First things first – schedule an appointment with your vet if you suspect your pet's skin is playing up. They'll diagnose the issue and recommend a tailored remedy plan.
Bed and blanket TLC: Keep your pet's bedding clean by washing it every other week. Use your hottest washing machine setting but be sure it won't harm their cosy spots. If it doesn’t fit in the machine, a thorough hand wash will do the trick. Just make sure everything's 100% dry before your pet snuggles up. A dust-free sleeping area is a happy one. Make sure to use a mild detergent and ensure that their bedding is properly rinsed.
Chill baths: For intense itchiness, give your dog cold-water baths three times a week. It calms the itch and gives pollen a run for its money. Go for the right shampoos to keep that coat squeaky clean. There are a few pet friendly hypoallergenic and gently medicated shampoos available from your vet. Make use of these or if you use a parlour make sure they are using the right soaps for your dog. You can also purchase dog grooming wipes to remove loose hair, dirt, pollen and odour causing bacteria from your dog’s fur.
Wind wisdom: On windy days, keep your pet indoors. Wind stirs up pollen, and that's a no-no for sensitive skin.
Nutritional aid: Even if the root of your pet's skin issue isn't nutrition-related, they'll benefit from top-notch food especially formulated for sensitive skin. Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Complete for dogs is the only clinically proven nutrition solution for both food and environmental allergies*. It contains egg, a novel protein, and a breakthrough formula with bioactives and phytonutrients to reduce the signs associated with environmental allergies.
"Your pet's skin health is key to their overall well-being. Proper bathing, regular coat and skin examinations and annual vet check-ups are a great way to help prevent skin problems flaring up and to keep your pet happy and healthy, always,” Dr. Fyvie concludes.
Visit www.itchypets.co.za for more information, and take the quiz to find out if your pet is suffering from allergies
*The only dietetic nutritional solution for both food and environmental allergies in dogs supported by 3 clinical studies.