As we head into spring and start thinking about summer, the conversation turns to allergies and asthma. However, this isn’t just a problem in people as it also wreaks havoc for pets every single year. Most commonly seen in cats and dogs, reactions can come from airborne allergens such as those found in weed pollens, trees, and even the grass. Over time, our pets are affected by fleas, dust mites, mold, and mildew.
As they inhale the allergens, it leads to a reaction within their immune system and often an overreaction to the danger. If your cat or dog keeps coming in contact with the allergen, they become more and more sensitive until the overreactions become more dangerous.
Just as we see with humans, the allergens cause problems such as asthma as it impacts the respiratory system. Often called allergic bronchitis, dogs can struggle to breath and it all stems from the environment surrounding them. This being said, the problem is actually quite rare in dogs and far more common in cats so we now have solutions and extensive knowledge on the topic. Since cats are smaller, on average, than dogs, they are more susceptible to the issue and this leads to the name ‘feline bronchitis’. As the lower airway inflames, cats tend to wheeze and cough to handle the reaction. As you can see, we have used the terms ‘asthma’ and ‘bronchitis’ and this is because they make up the one problem that currently exists.
Symptoms – Once again, the problem in pets is very closely related to that of humans. For example, the main symptoms are respiratory distress as well as coughing. Considering coughing in cats is very rare, the problem can be diagnosed almost immediately. If you are a cat owner, you are likely to see them squat and extend their neck as they cough.
When it comes to allergies, the most common symptom will be a scratching of the skin – sometimes this can be localized, other times it can be all over the body. In extreme cases, the eyes and nose could see some discharge and there may be distress in the digestive system. Ultimately, this could lead to sustained diarrhea and vomiting. As the owner, it can be quite stressful to witness your pet undergo these problems but treatment is available as we will see in a moment.
Cause – Sadly, there are many ways an allergic reaction and asthma can occur from smoke, open flames, household cleaner, air fresheners, perfumes, outdoor stoves or fires to even dust that rises from kitty litter when moved. Furthermore, problems can also occur with hairspray, pollution, weed pollens, mildew, mold, trees, and dust mites.
Treatment – If you witness the symptoms we saw previously, the best solution will always be to visit a vet as soon as possible. Within dogs, an x-ray will normally be taken and, if the problem is spotted, this will be followed by medication. For allergies, pets can be tested by taking samples of the blood or even just simple skin tests. If all goes well, the vet will spot the exact allergen causing the problem. If history tells us anything, it is that the environment is to blame for a huge percentage of cases. Whilst it can be a hard task preventing your pets from becoming affected, your vet will provide you with tips and advice!