Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog
The Dreaded Itch: Combating Winter Allergies in Pets
There are many factors at play when it comes to maintaining our skin. Thanks to the cold, windy winter weather, not to mention the dry heat found inside most homes and businesses, our skin can become dry and itchy. The same is true for our pets, especially those who already suffer from allergies.
Winter allergies in pets is a common condition, but, fortunately, there are a variety of tactics you can use to help your pet feel more comfortable when temperatures drop.
What Causes Winter Allergies in Pets?
When we consider our own allergies, many of us think of pollen and other common springtime allergens. The truth is, an allergy is simply an overreaction of the immune system to a foreign particle, which can be anything from mold spores, to dust mites, to dander, all of which are found inside our homes year-round.
With most pets spending a larger amount of time indoors in the winter, protecting them from the effects of winter allergies is crucial for their health and comfort.
Controlling the Symptoms
Unlike humans, a pet’s allergies manifest as skin disorders. Itchy, dry, flaky, or oozing skin are all indications that your pet may be suffering from allergies. Hotspots, caused by excessive licking and chewing, are of particular concern when it comes to winter allergies in pets. If left untreated, hotspots can lead to secondary skin infections and unnecessary suffering for your furry friend.
Try the following steps to help soothe the symptoms of winter allergies:
- Paw Care – Wipe your pet’s paws each time he or she comes indoors and dry thoroughly to ease inflammation.
- Grooming – Brush and bathe your pet regularly using a hypoallergenic or medicinal shampoo and conditioner to soothe skin and remove allergens. The shampoos and conditioners you use should have something called ceramides. These are helpful to keep substances like allergens, dust, and molds out of the skin. They act like a natural sealant to fill in the little cracks and holes in the skin.
- Diet – Provide your pet with the highest quality diet possible. In some cases, a prescription diet could be beneficial.
- Supplements – Consider adding a supplemental fatty acid, such as fish oil, for optimal skin health. Your veterinarian can help you select the one that best fits your pet’s needs.
- Antihistamines – Some pets benefit from the use of topical antihistamines or steroid sprays or creams. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
- Medication – Your veterinarian will help you to determine if prescription oral allergy medications or allergy injections could help your pet.
- Infestation Control – Fleas can thrive in the warm, dry climates inside our homes and, for some pets, because each flea bites its host 50 times per day even one flea can trigger a host of inflammatory allergic reactions. Keep your pet on a flea preventive medication year-round.
Besides caring for your pet’s skin, keeping your home as free from indoor allergens as possible is key in helping an allergic pet. Vacuum your home weekly, including upholstery and curtains. Wash and dry your pet’s bedding often, and change the filter in your furnace regularly.