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Spring allergies and your pets

You aren’t the only one who suffers

Posted: April 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Growing grass, blooming flowers and blossoming plants signal the start of spring across the Santa Clarita Valley. The season has been known to trigger environmental allergies not just in people, but for their pets, as well.

 

Blooming flowers and blossoming plants signal the start of spring across the Santa Clarita Valley. The season has been known to trigger environmental allergies not just in people, but for their pets, as well.

“I see at least one pet a day in my practice for allergies. The heavy winds just make it worse,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia. “Usually, they’re allergic to pollen, trees and grass, just like we are. My dog is allergic to every grass known to man.”

Allergy symptoms for dogs can range from incessant licking inflamed paws to a red, itchy belly to ear infections.
“For some dogs, it can become an upper respiratory issue where, like people, they’ll have sneezing fits or a runny nose and watery eyes,” Vega said.

While dogs are usually more susceptible to environmental allergies, Vega does see cats suffering from it, too.
“It presents more like asthma symptoms for cats or with ear issues,” she said.

Usually, according to Dr. Vega, an antihistamine is prescribed for pets suffering from environmental allergies. Many of the same over-the-counter antihistamines are effective with pets, though it can be trial and error process to see which formula works best with each pet’s particular chemistry.

In extreme cases, a steroid such as prednisone might be prescribed to alleviate painful symptoms for a short period of time.

“Steroids can have side effects such as weight gain or the suppression of the immune system that aren’t great long-term, but if a pet is red, itching and bleeding, we’ll give steroids to calm down the condition, then go to an antihistamine,” Vega said. “Pets can also get allergy injections, once they’ve been tested to find out what they’re specifically allergic to. Eventually, the injections will create immunity to that allergy.”

Holistic remedies such as adding fish oils to the pet’s diet can also be therapeutic.

“Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and also helps with skin and coat,” Vega said. “There are other topic products, such as an oatmeal shampoo, that can soothe the skin. It’s not long-lasting, but it feels good.”

Acupuncture is another holistic practice to be considered.

“It helps with the immune system, with balancing things out,” Vega said. “I wouldn’t recommend acupuncture alone for allergies, but it works well in conjunction with more traditional remedies.”

Once a protocol is in place, pet owners can also help their dog or cat by limiting outside access and cleaning off paws after exposure to grass. Dog booties are another method of keeping sensitive paws from direct contact with grass and other allergy-provoking elements.

Practically speaking, however, it can be a challenge to avoid spring’s inevitable allergy producers.

“As soon as you open the door, the pollens come inside,” Vega said.

Happy Pets Veterinary Center is located at 27550 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. For more information, visit www.happypetsveterinary.com or call 661-295-9972.

Michelle Sathe is a freelance contribution to The Signal and the author of “Pit Stops 2: Adventures with Kara.” For more info, visit www.pitstopsbook.com.

 

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