This is an awful pollen season — for your pets

The spring of 2017 is shaping up as a nasty pollen season for dogs, cats and human beings. So experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners are offering advice on how to help your pets cope.

Pets can get allergies just as humans do

Step one is to look for a telltale sign of allergies – dogs and cats scratching themselves.

That might come as a surprise, because everyone knows that pollen makes people sneeze. But animals’ bodies are different. While people breathe in pollen, dogs and cats are much more likely to absorb it through their skin, along with other allergens.

That’s why pets itch and scratch so much that they become downright miserable.

With their excessive scratching, many of these dogs cannot sleep through the night said Dr. Robert Schick of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, who is board-certified in veterinary dermatology. “And this often leads to an owner who can’t sleep at night.”

And it’s not just dogs. “It affects dogs and cats, we’ve allergy-tested horses, and allergy-tested primates and even a polar bear at the zoo,” Schick said.

So take notice if your dog is scratching excessively, or scooting his bottom on the floor, rubbing his face on the furniture or licking paws excessively. Cats suffering from allergies may lick themselves even more than normal, possibly even pulling out clumps of hair.

Go to your family veterinarian if these problems persist. Your family vet may send you to a veterinary dermatologist like those at many BluePearl hospitals.

What can you do to prevent an allergic reaction? After a walk outside, use a wet washcloth to wipe down your dogs’ legs and tummy.  Consider a weekly bath with cool water, possibly using antibacterial shampoo which you may get from your veterinarian.

There are pros and cons to keeping a cat indoors, but one of the pros is that your cat will avoid many allergens from the outside, such as pollen.

It may come as a surprise, but that doesn’t solve everything. One of the most common allergies in dogs and cats is house dust mites, which are prevalent indoors and don’t have anything to do with pollen. Just like humans, pets can be allergic to several other things besides pollen, such as fleas or various foods. And allergens are present all the time, not just in spring.

The best news is that with proper veterinary care, most allergies can be treated and your furiously scratching dog or cat can finally get some comfort.

“It’s very common for pets to have allergies,” Schick said. “A veterinary dermatologist can help your pets find relief.”