Hay fever or Atopy in Dogs and Cats

If you are like me, you are anxious for the longer days of spring, and the warmth that comes with it. I have been seeing the effects of the warmer days and winter rains on pets in the Gilroy area. The wet season has brought a bumper crop of grasses which has made a lot of my allergy prone patients, not to mention my dog Maisy, miserable. This last week half my patients have come to the hospital seeking relief. Cats are sneezing and wheezing and dogs are itching their ears, chewing on their feet, and licking their butts.

When human hay fever sufferers breathe pollens in, sinuses become inflamed, mucous is produced, and bugs grow in the warm mucous. This  same scenario often occurs in cats. Clear discharge from the nose due to allergies can turn to yellow and green as infection sets in.When this happens, antibiotics, antihistamines, and antiinflamatories are needed to relieve symptoms

Cats are also prone to asthma and bronchitis from “hay fever”. Cats will act like they are bringing up a hairball, but they are just reacting to the “itch” or “tickle” in their chest, with loud breathing and wheezing.(This often looks like they are having trouble breathing!) If you see these symptoms, but your cat feels fine otherwise, you can try ½ tab of 10mg Claritin for a couple days to see if it helps.

Dogs will chew on their paws, their eyes will run, they will sneeze or wheeze, and their outer ears and ear canal will turn bright red when they get “hay fever”. Antihistamines sometimes help with  the swelling , inflammation, and irritation. The dosages for Claritin and Benadryl are in my free home remedy download. Cetirizine which is the generic for Zyrtec can also be used. The dosage is ¼ tab for a small dog daily. ½ tab for a medium size dog daily, and one tab daily for a large dog. Each dog and cat will react differently to medication, so one antihistamine that works well with one does not mean that it will work well on other animals with similar symptoms.

If symptoms are severe, nothing seems to work better than an injection of dexamethasone.  I have had to give several injections to dogs and cats with moderate to severe allergy symptoms this week. I try to use far less long acting injections of steroids or long term oral prednisone usage. I try to manage allergies with better nutrition. Skin that is better nourished is less likely to become inflamed.

You can read about my nutritional ideas and treatment of allergic dogs in my book, Dog Dish Diet.

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