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Don’t Let Your Pet Fall Victim to Autumn Allergies

September 16, 2019
Don’t Let Your Pet Fall Victim to Autumn Allergies

Long summer days will soon give way to crisp, fall air and the warm hues of changing leaves. Autumn should be known for pumpkin-spiced goodies and long walks on the beach, not for itching and scratching, but that’s exactly what your pet may be doing if she’s unfortunate enough to be affected by fall allergies.

Pet allergies

Pets develop allergies when their immune system becomes sensitive to substances in the environment. Common pet allergens include:

  • Pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses
  • Fleas
  • Food ingredients
  • House mites

Pet allergy signs

When you think of allergies, you likely picture someone who is sneezing and coughing and has watery, red eyes, but allergic pets display signs that differ from their human owners, such as:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red, irritated, or bumpy skin
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Bad smelling skin or ears
  • Hair loss
  • Biting, licking, or chewing at their skin or feet

Mild irritation caused by allergies often spirals into a vicious cycle of itching and digging if a secondary skin infection develops. If your pet exhibits any of these signs, environmental irritants may be the cause, and our veterinary team can help you address the source of your pet’s discomfort. 

Fall pet allergens

A pet can have allergies year-round or only during particular times of the year. Many seasonal allergies affect pets in the spring, but the fall season brings its own group of itchy irritants, including: 

  • Pollen — Allergy signs often flare up when the season changes, because new plants bloom and release pollen that can settle on a pet’s skin, or be inhaled. Ragweed is a common fall allergen for people and pets, with peak pollen levels in early September. Sagebrush, goldenrod, pigweed, curly dock, and lamb’s quarters are other fall pollinators that can wreak havoc on allergy sufferers.
  • Fleas — Fleas can irritate pets all year long, but populations are often highest in the fall, after they have multiplied exponentially during the warm, humid summer. Pets who are allergic to fleas experience an exaggerated response to bites that cause only mild irritation to non-allergic pets. A protein in the flea’s saliva can cause severe itching, skin rash, and hair loss after only a few bites. Ensure you continue administering your pet’s flea-preventive medication year-round to prevent fleas from trying to hitch a ride inside your home when things cool off outside.
  • House mites — Dust and storage mites that live in homes cause most people and pets no problems, but some sensitive individuals will suffer from severe allergies. Both mite species live in bedding, furniture, and carpets, and storage mites can also contaminate dry pet food. Mites are present year-round and can cause nonseasonal allergies, but pets often spend more time indoors when the weather turns cool, which increases mite exposure. 

fall pet allergies

Pet allergy diagnosis

If you suspect your pet may have fall allergies, schedule an appointment for an evaluation and to discuss a plan that will keep her comfortable during allergy season. If your pet’s allergies are mild, our veterinarians may prescribe medications to control her symptoms, but more severe cases often require testing to identify the allergens causing your pet’s sensitivity. Allergy testing can be performed in two different ways:

  • Serum allergy testing — We will draw your pet’s blood, which we will send to an outside laboratory for detection of antibodies to specific allergens, to determine exactly which substances cause her allergies.
  • Intradermal allergy testing — We will shave an area on your pet’s side, and inject a panel of individual allergens under her skin in a grid pattern. Substances your pet is allergic to will cause specific injection sites to become inflamed and itchy.

Pet fall allergy treatment

Our veterinarians can often prescribe medications, such as antihistamines, to manage your pet’s mild allergy symptoms and keep her comfortable until the season passes. More severe cases will require allergy testing to identify the specific substances causing her allergies so that immunotherapy injections, or allergy shots, can be developed. If the idea of repeated injections makes you squeamish, your pet may be a candidate for an oral immunotherapy treatment that can be administered at home.

If you think your pet may have fall allergies, contact us to discuss ways to help keep her comfortable so you can enjoy this beautiful season together.