The National Asthma and Allergy Foundation has a good reason to declare May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. This is peak season for both people and pets to develop symptoms for both conditions. Although the awareness campaign is aimed at humans, pet owners should be able to recognize signs of asthma or allergies as well. In addition to not being able to communicate his suffering, your dog or cat may display symptoms differently than you would expect. Keep reading to learn how you can keep the kitty or pooch you love happy and sneeze-free.
Asthma in Companion Animals
Statistically, asthma affects cats far more often than dogs. Unfortunately, the number of animal asthma cases is growing due to their increased exposure to environmental pollutants. Common asthma triggers include
- Grass and tree pollen
- Car exhaust fumes and other air types of air pollution
- Mold and mildew
- Smoke from tobacco products and fireplaces
- Household sprays and chemical solutions, such as hair spray, deodorant, flea spray, and fragrances
- Dust from cat litter
The primary symptom of asthma is coughing, which cat owners often mistake as an attempt to cough up a hairball. Coughing and wheezing typically only occur with a flare-up and the pet is fine between bouts. With severe asthma, the animal displays symptoms every day. This may include breathing with an open mouth and constant panting. Occasionally they can have an asthma attack which can be a life-threatening situation.
Allergies in Companion Animals
The following four types of allergies are seen in dogs and cats:
- Contact Allergies: These allergies develop after a pet comes into contact with an allergen, such as a detergent or the medication found in a flea collar.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Pets who are allergic to flea saliva will develop a severe skin irritation, even after just one flea bite.
- Food Allergies: Your pet may be allergic to one or more ingredients in her food. Typical culprits include beef (34%), chicken (17%), lamb (15%), and wheat (14%).
- Environmental Allergies: This includes anything that gets on your pet’s skin or that your pet breathes in, including indoor or outdoor environmental factors such as mold spores, house dust, pollen or cigarette smoke.
People with allergies tend to sneeze and have watery eyes. Dogs and cats can show those same signs but more frequently they get itchy skin. They scratch and lick excessively to try to alleviate their discomfort. This can actually make things worse because these actions can cause further skin irritation and possible infections.
Treating Asthma or Allergies in Your Pet
If you notice any unusual coughing, wheezing, or extreme itchiness, your pet could have asthma or allergies. It’s important to visit AMC right away for a thorough evaluation. We will ask several questions about her behavior as well as your living environment to pinpoint a cause of the symptoms. Your dog or cat’s veterinarian may also conduct some medical tests before giving an official diagnosis. With prescription medication and some changes in the environment, pets with asthma or allergies can live a long and healthy life.