Signs your pet has seasonal allergies — and what you can do to help

Bug bites are a pest!

Some days it seems like you step outside into a thick cloud of pollen, ragweed, or even worse, mold. Hello, seasonal allergies!

Thankfully humans have remedies that let us enjoy the outdoors without itchy eyes and inflamed sinuses. But what about your pet? If you notice your pet is scratching themselves, sneezing more than normal, licking their paws, or shedding worse than before, they too could be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Pet seasonal allergy symptoms to look for

Dogs and cats show similar allergy symptoms as humans, yet they experience them most through their skin. Excessive scratching likely means itchy, irritated skin. Here are a few more symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Scratching and biting their coat or skin
  • Red, inflamed, or infected skin
  • Excessive shedding
  • Compulsive paw licking in dogs
  • Boot scoots or licking their anal glands
  • Chronic ear infections or red, waxy ears (common for dogs who are prone to ear problems in the first place)
  • Respiratory issues, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing (more common in cats)

How to help soothe seasonal pet allergies

Like humans, there’s no cure for your pet’s seasonal allergies. But that doesn’t mean they have to suffer.

Try an allergy pill

You can safely give your pet an over-the-counter anti-histamine to relieve their symptoms. The dosage depends on your pet’s unique needs and their weight. So, before stuffing any allergy medication into their mouth, check with your veterinarian.

Itchy cat

Allergy medicines that are safe for your pet include:

  • Benedryl (diphendyrmine)

  • Claritin (loraditine) *never ever give your pet Claritin-D
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
  • Chlor Trimton (chlorpheniramine)
  • Generic brands for any of the medications above

NOTE: If you’re going to try an allergy medication, do not use a decongestant or anything that contains pseudoephedrine (like Claritin-D). Even small amounts of pseudoephedrine can be lethal in dogs.

These medications work best as preventatives. If you know your pet reacts to hay fever, start treating them as soon as the allergy season begins to set in.

Manage irritation with other remedies

If you’re wary about giving your pet a pill, there are other ways to soothe your pet’s symptoms, including natural remedies.

  • Flea and tick preventative. Ensure your best friend’s skin won’t be irritated by fleas.
  • Anti-itch sprays or creams. Topical treatments will provide temporary relief, giving your pet a break from all that scratching. Only use products that are made for pets, as products marketed for humans may be ineffective or toxic to your furry friend.
Dog and flowers
  • Baths. If your pet likes baths, you’re lucky. If they aren’t a fan, get those treats ready. Baths remove allergens or pollen on your pet’s skin, relieving symptoms and soothing skin. Look for shampoos containing oatmeal, which helps to moisturize skin, ease itching, and minimize inflammation. Again, only use shampoos and soaps made for pets. Animals and humans have a different pH level, so products made for people can cause additional irritation to pets.
  • Wipe off coat and paws. Similar to a bath, a quick wipe down of your pet's coat, skin, and paws each time they return from outdoors will help remove excess pollen and allergens when a full bath isn't possible. Use a moist cloth or hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe. This may be especially helpful if your pet's irritation is localized to their paws.
  • Fatty acid supplements. Omega fatty acids found in many fish oil supplements are another way to relieve itchy skin or prevent skin infection. Plus, they’ll help strengthen and soften your pet’s coat.
  • Local honey. This tip is strictly for dog owners. Local honey is often made from the same pollen that causes seasonal allergies. The idea is that by ingesting the honey, you or your dog will become more accustomed to the pollen. As a result, your allergies will be less bothersome. According to the Mayo Clinic, these results haven’t been consistently duplicated in clinical studies. Thankfully, honey is a sweet treat for both you and your dog, so it can’t hurt to try.
  • Avoid allergens. The best way to relieve or reduce symptoms is to reduce exposure. This might be the toughest option as it’s hard to keep a dog or an outdoor cat from going outside, but limiting time outdoors on high-pollen days will help manage symptoms.

If your pet’s allergies are severe, your veterinarian may prescribe steroids to help control inflammation. We know watching your animal suffer from allergies can be just as difficult as dealing with them yourself. No matter what method works best for you, we hope your pet is back to wanting extra belly scratches for pleasure — not allergy relief — in no time!

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