Sniffles and sneezes. Itchy eyes. A runny nose. We are all too aware of these common allergy symptoms in humans, particularly now as we enter hay fever season – but did you know that some pets can suffer from allergies too?
Leading vet charity, PDSA, offers advice for owners to help identify the signs and symptoms to look out for in our furry friends.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “An allergy is when the body’s immune system over reacts to a substance, viewing it as a harmful ‘invader’. Common allergy triggers include pollen, dust, an insect bite or even certain types of foods. Ahead of Pet Allergy Week (26 – 30 April), we’ve identified the top three types of allergies that most commonly affect our pets.”
“The ones we know all too well, as they tend to be the most common, are environmental allergies. Those that trigger a response when we come into contact with them in our surroundings, like dust mites, storage mites, dust, pollen and mould.
“A runny nose, watery eyes and shortness of breath are telltale signs of hay fever in humans, but these signs are much rarer in our four-legged counterparts. Sore eyes, sensitive paws, red and sore looking skin, grooming too much, rubbing their ears, shaking their heads and general scratching can indicate that our pets may be suffering from seasonal allergies”.
“Fleas can also cause problems for our pets and make itchy skin worse, so regular flea treatment is essential.
“Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is a common skin disease in our pets, especially in cats. Even one flea bite can cause severe itching to a flea-allergic pet. Signs to look for include bumps, scabs, hair loss, excessive grooming or even ulcers and infections.”
Nina says: “Food allergies occur when our pet’s immune system overreacts to one or more ingredients in their food, which then triggers an immune response. So it’s a good idea to observe how your pet responds to any new food or treats you give them, in the form of a food diary.
“This is a great way to keep track of which foods may cause irritation and help determine the problem ingredient for future suppers. Talk to your vet about the best way to do this and which diet will best suit your pet.”
“With spring now in full bloom and the sunnier evenings returning, there is nothing we or our pets love more than heading outside and embracing nature, be it in the park or the garden! That’s why it’s important to seek help from your vet right from the first symptom. Don’t let these allergies get in the way of some summer fun, for you or your companion!”
Check out the PDSA Pet Store for treatments to help your pet.
PDSA is the vet charity for pets in need, preventing unnecessary suffering through treatment and education. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps PDSA reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. To support the charity’s vital work, visit pdsa.org.uk.