Allergic reactions are common among humans, but our pets may also experience problems caused by allergens in their environment. Along with dust, flea, and food allergies, oak and pine pollen allergies in pets have become more and more common this time of year.
What are Pine and Oak Pollen Allergies in Pets?
In the springtime, different varieties of pine and oak trees release significant amounts of pollen into the air. This can aggravate seasonal allergies in our pets, and it’s difficult to avoid, as the pollen can drift over a large area.
The pollen released by the trees lands on your pet’s paws, coat, and skin. Specialized immune cells, called mast cells, leap into action on your pet’s behalf. When the immune system is stimulated by allergens, it produces a protein called histamine. Histamine causes an inflammatory response in the tissues, leading to itchy and inflamed skin.
Signs of Pollen Allergies in Pets
Signs that your pet may be experiencing a seasonal pollen allergy include:
- Bumps on the skin
- Obsessive chewing at the skin
- Licking and biting at the skin
- Ear infections
- Hair loss
- Red/itchy eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Ulceration of the skin
Diagnosis of Seasonal Allergies in Pets
If you think your pet is affected by pine or oak pollen allergies, a trip to see us is the best course of action. We’ll take a complete medical history of your pet’s symptoms and lifestyle and will conduct a nose-to-tail physical exam. We’ll also take skin scrapings to examine under a microscope. This can help us determine whether seasonal allergies are a problem for your pet.
We may recommend further skin testing, namely an intradermal skin test (patch test). This involves injecting small amounts of allergen under the skin in a precise pattern in order to identify a localized reaction. Blood testing may also be used to identify allergens.
Treatment of Pollen Allergies in Dogs
Treatment depends largely on your pet’s individual responses to diagnostic testing, but it may include any or all of the following:
- Corticosteroid therapy
- Hydrocortisone baths
Immunotherapy is one of the most effective tools we have for the treatment of seasonal allergies in dogs. After identifying the exact allergen using a patch test, an injection is prepared with the allergen and is administered to the patient either weekly or monthly. This desensitizes your pet to the allergen. This treatment has been shown to be very effective, especially in younger dogs.
How to Help Your Pet
There are a few things you can do at home to help alleviate pollen allergies in pets:
- Keep your pet indoors during high pollen count days.
- Keep your dog’s coat short.
- Bathe your pet in fresh water to remove as much pollen as possible.
- Wipe your pet’s coat and paws with a damp towel after playing outdoors and before coming inside.
At King’s Trail Animal Hospital, your pet’s health and comfort are our top concerns. If you believe your pet is experiencing seasonal allergies, please contact us for an appointment. Together, we can bring your pet some relief and help them feel their best during this challenging time of year.