Winter is quickly becoming a distant memory as the days warm up and plants and trees come into bloom. Unfortunately, the change in seasons can cause unpleasant symptoms for pets that suffer from seasonal allergies. Because dogs and cats do not experience the same allergy symptoms as people, you might not even be aware that your pet has allergies.
How Do Seasonal Allergies Affect Dogs and Cats?
If you have seasonal allergies, you are very familiar with the symptoms of the condition. Sneezing, red eyes, a runny nose or nasal congestion can make you feel awful, but your pet experiences different symptoms when seasonal allergies flare up. Allergies are more likely to affect your pet’s skin. If your dog or cat frequently licks or scratches its skin when spring arrives, allergies to pollen, grasses or molds may be to blame.
How Can I Help My Pet Manage Seasonal Allergies?
There are a few things you can do to make allergy season more bearable for your pet, such as:
- Bathe your pet frequently. Washing your dog at least once every week removes allergens that can get caught in hair and fur. Your cat can benefit from a bath, too. Hypoallergenic shampoos are best. Oatmeal-based products can help reduce itching and soothe skin. If your feline friend has a strong dislike of water, as many cats do, remove allergens by running a damp cloth over its body.
- Wipe your pet’s paws. Pollen can become stuck to the bottoms of your pet’s feet. When your dog or cat returns inside, remove the pollen with a soft cloth. Pollen can also stick to the bottoms of your shoes. Your pet will not only benefit if you remove your shoes when you enter your house, but you will too if you have seasonal allergies.
- Give your furry friend Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The supplements can help keep your pet’s skin healthy and reduce the effects of seasonal allergies.
- Bring your pet indoors before you mow: Whether your pet is allergic to grasses or pollen, keeping your friend indoors while you mow will help decrease exposure to allergens.
- Pay attention to the allergy forecast. Online weather sites, such as Weather.com, feature allergy forecasts that let you know when pollen or mold levels are high in your area. If levels rise, keep your pet inside as much as possible until the levels begin to drop.
- Use the air-conditioner. Pollen is so small that it can drift through the holes in window and door screens. Air-conditioner filters catch the pollen and prevent it from settling on surfaces in your home.
Can My Pet Take Allergy Medications?
Allergy medications can reduce your pet’s symptoms, but it’s important to check with a veterinarian before you give your dog or cat any type of medication. Your vet may prescribe a topical cream or ointment that reduces itching, or may recommend antihistamines, steroids, or other types of medications.
Allergy testing is often used to determine the specific allergens that cause symptoms. During the test, various types of allergens are injected into your dog or cat’s skin. If your pet is allergic to the substance, small red bumps will appear on the skin. Identifying the type of allergens that trigger reactions help your veterinarian develop an effective treatment plan.
Do you think that your pet may have seasonal allergies? We can provide a diagnosis and offer treatment will help your pet feel more comfortable. Call us to schedule an appointment.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Pets
Not sure if your pet has a seasonal allergy? Take a look at these common signs and symptoms.
Seasonal allergies can cause a constant, intense itch. If your dog or cat cannot seem to stop scratching, allergies may be the reason. Itching can occur around the eyes, mouth, feet, armpit, abdomen, thighs, and anus. In addition to scratching, your pet may also drag its face or body across carpeting or other rough surfaces in an attempt to gain some relief from the itching.
Biting and Licking
Your pet will do anything to try to reduce itching, including biting and licking the skin. Unfortunately, biting, licking and scratching can result in hair loss, open sores and scabs. Sores can become infected, which can make your pet even more uncomfortable.
Frequent Ear Infections
Seasonal allergies can cause ear infections. Symptoms of ear infections in cats and dogs include scratching, redness, discharge, odor, excessive ear wax, and crusts or scabs.
Peteducation.com: Allergies & Atopy in Dogs
Michigan Humane Society: Can Pets Have Seasonal Allergies?
CNN: How to Help Your Pets with Allergies, 3/19/11
Fireworks are the perfect ending to any summer celebration, but while you are oohing and aahing as the night sky lights up, your dog or cat may be cowering in fear. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep your furry friend safe, calm and happy during a fireworks show.
Why Are Fireworks So Scary?
Imagine how startled you would be if you suddenly heard loud booms and saw bright lights but had no idea what caused them. Although your family may eagerly anticipate fireworks every year, your pet has no idea that your usually peaceful home will soon be disrupted by loud, frightening noises.
Avoiding Firework Dangers
Because your pet has no idea what causes those terrifying sounds, he or she may try to escape from your house in an effort to get away from the noise. Unfortunately, your pet can become injured by jumping through a window and may even run out into the street and be hit by a car. You can keep your pet safe by following these tips when it’s time for the local fireworks display.
- Do not take your pet to the show unless you are absolutely sure that he or she is not afraid of fireworks. Your pet may actually run toward the fireworks in an attempt to flee the noise or might knock over other guests.
- If you are setting off fireworks in your yard, or if you live in ear shot of a fireworks show, do not leave your pet outside – even in a secured and fenced yard. Scared pets have been known to escape from even the most pet-proofed yard when fireworks are involved. The best place for pets is inside.
- Find the quietest room in your house, and put your pet’s food, water, bed or crate in the room, along with a few toys. Turn on the TV or play some music to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. Be sure the door latches firmly when you leave the room. If a family member does not plan to attend the fireworks show, your dog or cat will enjoy a little company in the safe space.
- Put a collar and tags on your dog or cat. The tags will help ensure that your pet returns home if there is an escape. Make sure that the information on tags is current. For maximum peace of mind, microchip your pet too. Since microchips are placed under your pet’s skin, they can never be lost, unlike collars and tags.
- Take a recent photograph of your pet just in case there is an escape and you need to make a flyer or post information on the Internet.
- Do not leave your pet in the car if you are attending a fireworks show. The temperature inside your car can rise to dangerous levels in as little as 10 minutes. Your pet may also damage your car in an attempt to escape.
- Keep your pet inside until you clean up the remnants of the fireworks if you plan to hold a backyard show. Fireworks contain a variety of heavy metals, including arsenic and potassium nitrate that can harm your pet’s health.
- Make sure that fences and screens are in good repair to prevent your pet from escaping from your home during the fireworks.
- Take a road trip. If your pet is terrified of fireworks and nothing you do makes the situation more tolerable, consider leaving your pet with a friend outside the firework zone or check into a pet-friendly hotel or motel.
If your pet is afraid of fireworks or suffers from any other type of anxiety, we can help. Call us to schedule an appointment to discuss your furry friend’s fears.
The Humane Society of the United States: July Fourth Fireworks: Awesome for Humans, Terrifying for Pets
ASPCA: Fourth of July Safety Tips
American Veterinary Medical Association: Fourth of July Safety
The holidays are fun, even for pets, but the season brings added danger for animal companions. Learn to recognize and manage holiday hazards to keep your pet safe during the festivities.
Tinsel is attractive, especially to cats. Tinsel is not toxic but consuming tinsel can cause serious harm to your pet’s digestive system. The long, tough strands can actually cut through the intestine and cause peritonitis.
Pets love to play with bright, colorful ornaments, but may end up breaking or even chewing and swallowing these fragile decorations. Sharp, broken pieces can lacerate the animal’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Larger pieces can cause an obstruction and emergency surgery may be needed.
Cats love to climb trees, especially when the tree is indoors and loaded with ornaments and other decorations that look a lot like cat toys. A climbing cat can pull a fully decorated Christmas tree crashing to the ground, potentially injuring the animal. Tree water may contain dangerous fertilizers and stagnant tree water may contain unhealthy bacteria.
Mistletoe and Holly
Consuming holly may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Eating mistletoe can result in stomach upset and even heart problems. A cat may suffer kidney failure after ingesting some types of lilies.
A dog or cat that eats chocolate may experience vomiting and diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and, in severe cases, even death. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic compounds it contains.
Turkey Meat and Bones
Dogs and cats love turkey but this holiday fare may be dangerous to their health. The immediate pet hazard associated with turkey are the tiny bones that, if swallowed, may cause painful constipation or even splinter to perforate the stomach; both conditions require immediate veterinary attention. Feeding rich and fatty food like that served at holiday parties can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even inflammation of the pancreas. Raw or undercooked turkey can contain Salmonella, E. coli, or Campylobacter bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.
The herb sage contains essential oils and resins that add flavor to turkey and other holiday foods but this herb can cause an upset stomach and even nervous system problems in pets – especially cats.
Consuming raw bread dough is dangerous for pets, as heat from the animal’s body causes the dough to rise inside its stomach. The pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating.
Any pet encountering these holiday hazards may need immediate veterinary care for a complete examination, blood tests, x-rays, medications, and even surgery. Make this holiday season merry for everyone, including your pets, by keeping pets safe from these potential holiday hazards.
ASPCA, “Holiday Safety Tips.” 2014.
Pet Poison HelpLine, “Winter Holiday Pet Poison Tips.” 2014
For humans, that means better beach days and much needed vacations, but for your animals, the warmer weather can be dangerous. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion, so it’s important to take proper precautions and protect your pets from overheating. By following a few simple steps, you can help keep your pets safe and comfortable all summer long.
Beat the Heat
First things first, it is highly recommended that you schedule a visit with your vet for an early summer check-up and ask your doctor about flea and tick prevention. Have your pet tested for heartworm if they are not currently on year-round prevention medicine.
Use these four tips throughout the warmer months to protect your favorite four-legged friends.
- During the summer months, it’s best to be cautious of how long your pet spends in the sun. Being outside is a great way for your pets to be physically active. However, you may consider only letting your pets out during the cooler parts of the day. While humans can wear shoes, your pet’s feet are not protected against the hot ground, so it’s important to limit their exposure.
- Make sure your pets have access to shady spots throughout the day. Especially after exercising, they’ll need a cool spot to rest and plenty of fresh, clean water to keep them hydrated. You can even make some simple homemade treats to help keep them cool, such as peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (Ask your vet about any homemade treats prior to giving them to your pet, to make sure the ingredients are safe for your furry friend to ingest.)
- Never leave your pets alone in parked vehicles. Even with the windows down, the temperature in a car can quickly reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless if it’s left in sun or shade. These temperatures can cause your pet respiratory distress and, potentially, serious harm. Leave your pets where they have access to cool, shady spaces and plenty of water to keep them comfortable.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. While many animals use panting as a method to cool down, panting evaporates fluid from your pet’s respiratory tract. If your pet has been playing, exercising or has spent some time directly in the sun, it’s especially important to replace these fluids with enough clean drinking water throughout the day.
Halloween is right around the corner!
Whether you are planning on participating in the spookiest night of the year —Halloween — it is likely that people in your neighborhood are. This means that the streets will be filled with loud noises, new faces and all manner of things that can stress out your four-legged friends.
Halloween Safety Tips for Pets
Thankfully, you can prepare yourself — and your pets — for the big night with the following simple safety tips.
Hide the Candy
When ingested, candy, sugar and chocolate, in all forms, can be dangerous for your pets. Nowadays, most candy also contains artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, that your pets are unable to digest properly.
That’s why it is important to keep your Halloween candy away from your pets and avoid storing it anywhere your pets could easily or accidentally find (and eat) it.
Candies wrapped with plastic or lollipops can also be a severe choking hazard for pets, large or small. Swallowing candy wrappers or similar foreign bodies can cause an obstruction in your pet’s digestive system that is both expensive and painful to remove.
If you believe your pet has eaten candy or chocolate, contact us or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
Protect Your Pets From Pumpkins
For most household pets, pumpkins are considered nontoxic, but they can upset your pet’s stomach if they decide to nibble on them. If possible, position your pumpkins completely out of your pets’ reach instead of on the ground where they can get to them.
In fact, it is best to keep all Halloween decorations out of your pets’ reach. Decorations with wires or other small parts and jack-o-lanterns that involve the use of small candles should not be accessible by pets. Easy access can encourage pets to chew or play with loose wires and makes it easy for them to knock over lit pumpkins or candles and injure themselves, or even start a fire.
For even the most social pets, the constant influx of new people on Halloween can be overwhelming. In most cases, it is recommended to keep your pets separate from visiting trick-or-treaters. For some pets, the stream of strangers in scary costumes can cause anxiety. Some animals, especially dogs, react by becoming defensive of their home and owner and might bark or growl at visiting trick-or-treaters.
Be Cautious of Costumes
If you choose to put a costume of any kind on your pet, make sure it will not be bothersome or unsafe. Costumes should not constrict or minimize your animal’s movement, hearing, sight or their ability to breathe, bark or meow in any way. If your pet seems distressed, allergic to the costume’s material or simply unhappy being dressed in a costume, consider letting them experience the night without one.
In addition, if you do choose to put your pet in a costume, it is recommended that you don’t leave them alone in it. Parts of the costume can come apart, and your pet might accidentally ingest them or get tangled in them, which can be life threatening for your pet.
On a night like Halloween, tension and excitement is at an all-time high. When opening the door to visiting trick-or-treaters, take care that your pet does not make a run for the door and dart outside. If, for any reason, your pet does escape and become lost, it will help if your pet has proper, and updated, personal information. Make sure you have armed your pet with a collar, tags and/or a microchip to improve the chances he or she will return home safely.
This winter, while you curl up next to the fire with a cozy blanket, a good book and some hot chocolate, don’t forget about your pet! Winter can play it rough with your pet and you have to look out for his health and well-being. Here are some preparations you should make to help your pet prepare for the winter.
Nutrition – Perhaps the most important consideration for preparing your pet for winter is nutrition. Outdoor pets in particular require more calories in the winter to generate enough energy to cope with cold. A high quality nutritionally balanced diet is adequate to meet these increased demands, therefore most pets will not require supplementation with vitamins. In addition to a good diet, fresh water should be offered several times a day. However, when temperatures dip below freezing, Rover’s water will turn into ice, leaving him high and dry. If you have an outdoor dog, consider investing in a heated water bowl, which retails for about $30.
Shelter – While dogs and cats do have fur coats, they’re still vulnerable to wind and water. If your pet lives outdoors, provide a fully sheltered den with dry bedding; special pet-safe heating pads can provide extra warmth. The shelter should be elevated, insulated, wind- and watertight. The shelter should not be so large that they cannot preserve their body heat. But if the wind chill dips to 20 below, bring them inside.
Health – Shivering is the earliest indication your pet is too cold. As hypothermia progresses, the pet becomes lethargic and weak, and his gums may turn pale or bluish. Frostbite is dangerous because it normally goes unnoticed beneath fur. It affects ears, feet, tail, scrotum and mammary glands. After the initial numbness, pain and skin sloughing may occur. Don’t leave your pet outdoors after cold-weather exercise. Dry your pet off and bring it indoors and let it rest and get warm.
Hazards – Salts and other chemicals used to clear streets and sidewalks can irritate pets’ feet. Check the labels if you use snow or ice melt to make sure they are animal-safe. Another winter hazard to pets is antifreeze, which is extremely toxic. Store antifreeze where it cannot be reached by pets and/or children. If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, do not wait for symptoms- get your pet to your veterinarian immediately. Indoor pets face special challenges, too. Vets see more cats with respiratory ailments in the winter due to long-term exposure to wood smoke, so good ventilation is important. To avoid any complications it is best to take your pet to have a check-up before the worst of the winter kicks in.
Winter Blues – Fewer hours of day light mean fewer opportunities for outdoor exercise during the winter months. Energetic dogs who require lots of active play can become frustrated and depressed and this can lead to a variety of problem behaviors- from barking and howling, to chewing furniture or messing in the house. Experts believe that pets, especially dogs, do not get the winter blues. They believe that your pet’s lethargic and depressed behavior mirror your own feelings, as most pets are very sensitive to the emotional condition of their owners. Therefore, if you are prone to developing winter blues, take care of yourself (and your pet). Eat healthy and include regular exercise and fresh air in your daily program. Go for walk with your pet or play in the park for a few minutes. Fresh air and sunlight are the two most important ingredients that fight winter blues.