Itching for Spring: Help Pets Beat Seasonal Allergies
Allergies that irritate one in five Americans can also cause discomfort to vast numbers of furry friends
PHILADELPHIA (April 17, 2013) – The sounds of springtime can be a delight to pet parents, from the happy chirping of songbirds to the rustling of new leaves in the trees. But there is one sound that is not as welcome: the “Achoo!” of seasonal allergies. As more than 50 million U.S. allergy sufferers scurry to stock up on antihistamines and tissues, No. 1-rated Petplan pet insurance reminds pet parents that four-legged family members can also suffer from seasonal allergies.
Allergies are extremely common in furry friends – in fact, allergies were Petplan’s fifth most claimed-for condition of 2012. But while the runny noses, watery eyes and constant sneezing pet parents experience can also afflict four-legged family members, the most common sign of an allergy-suffering pet is overwhelming itchiness.
“Environmental allergies occur when a pet’s immune system is overly sensitive to substances like pollens. This is most often manifested as atopic dermatitis, or atopy. You’ll often see pets with atopy chewing at their paws, rubbing faces and ears, and scratching their bodies,” says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan. “Atopy can also be caused by food allergies, but if your pet is suddenly scratching up a storm with the change in season, environmental allergies may be a more likely culprit.”
Although scratching is often the starting point of seasonal allergy symptoms, excessive scratching and rubbing can lead to secondary skin, ear and eye infections. In severe cases, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, bumps and scabs on the neck and even enlarged lymph nodes can happen!
The costs to treat allergies are nothing to sniff at. According to Petplan 2012 claims data, the average reimbursement for treatment of allergies was $394.45, with some pets itching up to $5,510 in veterinary costs.
However, pet parents do have some defense against inhaled allergens. Petplan offers the following tips to help keep furry friends breathing easy and itch-free all season long:
- Breed All About It: Some breeds are shown to have a higher rate of developing atopy, from wrinkly pets like Shar Peis, Boxers and English Bulldogs, to terriers like West Highland White Terriers and Cairn Terriers. Even Golden Retrievers, Labradors and mixed breeds are prone – as well as all breeds of cat! – so pay attention to any discomfort, and bring pets to the vet if you spot signs of excessive scratching.
- Scrub-a-Dub: Itchy pets may benefit from being bathed more frequently (once or twice a week) to help keep allergens off their skin. Leave-on conditioners can help counteract dry skin that could result from so many baths. Additionally, some shampoos contain antibacterial and antifungal agents to help control infection, so ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
- Fish Food: Supplementing your pet’s diet with a high quality source of omega-3 fatty acids like cod liver oil can not only help to increase the health of your pet’s coat, but can also benefit joint, brain and organ function. Quality can vary by product, so ask your veterinarian for their preferred brand.
- Put Allergies to the Test: Seasonal allergies can sometimes turn into chronic, year-round conditions for some unlucky pets. If your pet can’t seem to stop scratching, ask your vet about allergy testing, which usually takes the form of a blood test or a skin prick test. Once the specific allergens are identified, desensitization (allergy shots) can start. These can not only help furry friends stop scratching as much, it could eventually eliminate allergic symptoms altogether.
For more tips on keeping pets happy, healthy and safe in any season, visit www.GoPetplan.com.
Top-rated pet insurance provider, Petplan, is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. In February 2013, Petplan pet insurance was at No. 34 on Forbes annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan’s fully customizable dog insurance and cat insurance policies provide coverage for all hereditary and congenital conditions for the life of the pet as standard, and meet the coverage requirements and budget for pets of all/any age. Petplan pet insurance policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group is rated A+ by A.M. Best (2011). For information, about Petplan pet insurance, visit www.GoPetplan.com, read the Petplan “Vets for Pets” Blog, or call 1-866-467-3875.