Pets and Indoor Allergies

Gram and I are sitting in the shade of our big old oak tree this afternoon pondering the health of a neighbor's dog. It seems this poor dog has a terrible itching problem and it is not fleas. Gram thinks the dog has an allergy problem and so we decided to write a little about indoor allergies and pets.

Can your dog or cat suffer from indoor allergies? The answer is yes.

No, they do not sniffle, sneeze or have red eyes. More than likely they will be itching, scratching and possibly shedding.

Interestingly our cats and dogs do not respond to airborne allergens like we humans do. Respiratory problems are rare with the exception of an asthmatic cat.

What are some of the causes of allergic reactions that pets may have?

First of all the list could be longer than you would care to read, so we will zero in on a few of the most common culprits.

Number one is “dust mites.” These tiny creatures can cause more problems than pollen. Then comes mold spores (caused by dampness and humidity,) cigarette or tobacco smoke, household cleaners and deodorizers, followed by cockroaches and their residue

Your pets can even be allergic to other pets such as birds, feather products such as down comforters and pillows and believe it or not even human dander.

Now if the allergy does not cause a respiratory problem, what does it cause? If your pet is just a little allergic you might not even notice if it is scratching excessively, however if your cat or dog is overly sensitive you may even notice spots where your pet has scratched or licked the fur away.

Where does your pet pick up these allergens? Mainly from the floor, the couch or chair it sits on, your bed or its own bed, anywhere its paws or body can come in contact with the substance. What can you do if you suspect your pet may have an allergy problem?

If your pet begins to scratch, bite, lick or claw at its body more than usual. If “hot spots” or areas of no fur appear on your pet’s body and fleas are not the problem. Your pet may have an allergy to something in the house, which can be a new food, new litter or a new treat among other things.

First off, pay a visit to your vet and have your pet examined. Your pet can be checked and tested for the basic 65 most common items. Treatment can include antihistamines and corticosteroids along with you treating the house.

Severe cases of allergies may have to be treated with immunotherapy which consists of progressive diluted doses of the allergen being injected into the pet on a weekly basis, increasing the amount of allergen involved each time until an immunity to it is formed.

What can you do at home?

If the allergy is due to a home used product, you stop using it. If cigarettes or tobacco is the culprit and you value your pet’s comfort, you establish a smoke free home.

Dust mites require vacuuming frequently, not only the floor, but also the furniture, drapes and washing all the bedding (dog’s and yours if the dog sleeps with you) at least once every two weeks in very hot water to kill the mites.

Keeping the humidity level at home down and repairing any leaks or water damage can help eliminate mold spores.

Removing all food crumbs and other inviting substances from the floors and counters will help eliminate the roach problem. If the poor bird is the problem, try to find a place for the bird where your cat or dog is not allowed to go and possibly that will help the problem.

The good new is that most allergies can be remedied with the help of you, your vet and medication.

Gram and I hope that this short article may have shed some light on any allergy problems your pet may have now or in the future. Granted a good scratch feels good, but to have to scratch at an itch for a prolonged period of time can really be detrimental for your pet.

Until next time I remain,

Your Sadie