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Health & Wellness

How to prepare your pet for allergy season

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk in the spring months and noticed they were having a human-like allergic response to the fresh air, flowers and dander? Just like us, seasonal allergies can make dogs and cats itchy, sneezy and generally uncomfortable due to the pollen and other allergens that thrive during this time of year. And while it can be undeniably adorable to see a puppy sneeze, it’s best to make sure you’ve got a plan in place to protect your pet during allergy season. We spoke with Fetch’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Aliya McCullough, to get the details on how to identify, prevent and treat your pet’s seasonal allergies. Take the quiz below and read on for more tips on how to prep your pet.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies in pets

Let’s start with the basics. Here are a few signs that your pet may be having an allergy flare and needs to see a vet:  

  • Coughing, sneezing or wheezing 
  • Scratching, rubbing, licking and chewing itchy areas (cats may focus scratching around the head and neck area)
  • Self-induced hair loss (alopecia)
  • Recurrent skin and ear infections
  • Scooting and licking of anal area
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or gas

Does pet insurance cover allergies?

Even if your pet isn’t showing symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your dog or cat to the vet in advance so you can work together on a plan in case an allergy does flare up. As Dr. McCullough says, “Good allergy control starts with preventive care. Once an allergy flare starts, it can be hard to control. Your vet can make sure there are no other health issues that could mimic allergies, trigger allergies, make symptoms worse or complicate treatment.” 

Of course, a veterinary exam comes with a bill — and if your dog or cat ends up needing tests, medication or other treatment, those can all add to your overall cost. That’s why we recommend enrolling in a pet insurance plan early, so you’ll be prepared for allergy season and any other unexpected injuries or illnesses throughout your pet’s life. Here’s what Fetch pet insurance covers when it comes to seasonal allergies:

  • Sick-visit exam fees
  • Tests including skin cytology, skin scrape, skin biopsy and blood testing
  • Allergy testing
  • Therapies including medications, shampoos and allergy shots

Fetch Members are also covered for remote telehealth appointments, up to $1,000 per year (no copay required). An online appointment could be helpful, especially if your pet has already been diagnosed with allergies and you need to speak to a vet about making changes to their treatment plan.

Treatment options for seasonal allergies in pets

Unfortunately there’s no cure for seasonal allergies, but there are a few therapies your vet may recommend to manage your pet’s discomfort, which can be used individually or combined. Possible treatment options include: 

  • Prescription foods
  • Chronic medications (oral and injectable)
  • Topical therapies such as shampoos, wipes, mousses, and sprays
  • Immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots)

Dr. McCullough also stresses the importance of ensuring your pet is receiving flea and tick preventives year-round to reduce the possibility of an allergy flare-up. 

How you can reduce your pet’s seasonal allergies at home

In addition to coming up with a treatment plan with your vet, there are a few preventive measures you can take at home to keep your pet’s space clean and (relatively) allergen-free.

Keeping your dog or cat on a regular bath schedule can play a big role in reducing allergens, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Using a medicated shampoo can also play a big role — medicated shampoos not only wash away allergens, but they can also help support the skin barrier and control overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Some medicated shampoos can be used daily or multiple times a week, so work with your vet to find the right bath and shampoo schedule for your pet.

Spring cleaning can also help with seasonal allergies: plush toys can pick up allergens, so be sure to throw them in the laundry, along with any soft cushions or beds your pet uses. While you’re at it, stay on a regular cycle of vacuuming any areas where your pet likes to hang out (carpets, couches, and floors are a good place to start). 

Air purifiers and dehumidifiers can also reduce dust mites and mold overgrowth, which will minimize your pet’s exposure to allergens when they’re at home. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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