Spring is here, and with it comes trees in bloom, beautiful flowers bursting to life and for an unfortunate many, bothersome allergy symptoms like hay fever. You may also notice your fur-kids constantly scratching, licking and biting themselves. That’s because we humans aren’t the only ones who suffer pollen allergies and hay fever. Our fur-kids can suffer, too.
Our fur-kid, Riley, has severe allergies. We tried treating him with sprays (he got smart and ran when he saw us with the spray bottle), topical creams (a tasty treat that got licked off) steroids (expensive!), antihistamines (didn’t work at all), several changes to his food ($60 for a bag of dog food? Oy vey.) – all to no avail.
On any given day, you would still find him persistently scratching, licking and biting every waking hour to get relief. He would dig at his ears, then shake his head, sending blood spatters in a three-room radius. Our home looked like a crime scene. It was miserable for us all.
We finally broke down and invested in a $400 allergy test that showed poor Riley is allergic to just about every grass and tree pollen in Kentucky – including the grass in his own yard – and now he must have allergy injections several times a month.
Our vet trained us on how to give injections, and Riley doesn’t seem to mind at all. He has happily traded licking off the topical itch creams and sprays for chasing me around the house after my shower to try to lick the lotion off my legs. Did I mention that it can take up to a year for these injections to become effective?
If allergy symptoms aren’t treated, the constant licking and scratching will create sores that can become infected, creating MORE problems. Unfortunately, I know this all too well.
The good news is that if your fur-kid suffers with allergy symptoms less than three months out of the year usually antihistamines, steroids or medicated shampoos can help control their itching. Other methods to control seasonal allergies are much like human allergy controls: keeping grass and flowering plants cut back, keeping your floors vacuumed (including underneath where lots of dust can collect), keeping windows closed and installing an air purifier. Remember, medications for humans should NEVER be given to your fur-kid unless prescribed by your veterinarian.
If your fur-kid is like Riley and chronically scratches the fur right off his ears, neck, and chest or chews at his feet until he bleeds in spite of trying all of the above and everything in your power to keep them from doing so, you will more than likely have to have them allergy tested to see what they are allergic to and follow up with allergy shots to build up their immunities. In that case, get your checkbook ready; again, it’s not cheap. But it is well worth it – for all of us.
Beth Green is a Louisville native and owns Paws Pet Care, a local award-winning pet-sitting and dog-walking company. She is a self-proclaimed “animaniac.” On a typical day, you may find her caring for her fur-clients, spending time with her husband and three children, reading, writing, shopping or with her two boxer-babies – Maddie and Riley – who often walk her around the block.