Kitchener-Waterloo

Are you suffering from seasonal allergies? Your pet could be too

It's not unusual for cats and dogs to develop an itch in reaction to grass pollen and dust mites this time of year, according Kitchener veterinarian Dr. Laura Pratola.

Itchy paws can be a sign of environmental allergies, Kitchener vet Dr. Laura Pratola says

Cats and dogs don't just cause allergies, they can also experience allergic reactions themselves.

If you're already suffering from seasonal allergies this spring, chances are your pet could be too.

Dr. Laura Pratola, a veterinarian with KW Mobile Veterinary Services, says it's not unusual for cats and dogs to react to allergens like grass pollen and dust mites this time of year.

"Seasonal flares are things that happen usually spring and fall, definitely, but pets may be allergic to any number of things and its not usually just one thing, there's usually compounding factors," she said.

While humans are prone to sneezing, sniffles or watery eyes, cats and dogs tend to experience itching when they have an allergic reaction.

Itchy and scratchy

"Itching typically can vary in location, but most of the time you see it in areas of contact, for most environmental allergies, so maybe the paws or the underbody," Pratola said.

She says it's helpful for veterinarians to have as much information about an animal and their environment in order to make a diagnosis.

She also recommends pet owners keep an eye out for any unusual behaviour and to contact their vet if they notice any sort of discomfort.

When it comes to treatment, Pratola says the veterinarian will first need to rule out any secondary infections that may result from broken skin due to scratching.

Fleas and mange can also be a source of itchiness and will need to be treated as well.

Grass pollen and dust mites are common environmental factors that can cause allergy flare-ups in pets. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Symptoms can be treated using antihistamines and other medications that manage the immune system's response to allergens.

While allergies can't be cured, just like in humans, Pratola says there are also a number of preventative measures pet owners can take.

"We try to do as much topical as we can. We try to make sure that they're being bathed on a regular schedule with appropriate things, depending on what their skin looks like and make sure their environment is being controlled," she said.

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