My Itchy Pet: Is it Allergies in Your Dog/Cat?

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by Michel Selmer, DVM

By the time October rolls around, autumn is well under way, and along with

Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM

Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM

that fall weather comes a number of pollens and molds that could be affecting your pet, especially those dogs and cats that spend time outdoors or live in a household with other pets that do spend time outdoors. Knowing the symptoms that may indicate that your dog or cat is having an allergic reaction to something is the first step. Here are some of the symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Itching. While Itching can be a sign of dry skin, it may also be a sign that your pet not only has fleas but may be having an allergic reaction to these little pests.
  • Chewing at their feet
  • Rubbing their noses
  • Runny eyes
  • Snoring
  • Constantly licking or biting at themselves

While many of these symptoms can be due to other causes, if they only appear during the fall months, it is more than likely that these symptoms indicate an allergic reaction to some of the fall pollens or spores. You need to have your dog or cat examined by your vet to determine the exact cause of these symptoms. If the problem is due to allergies, there are a number of treatments your vet and you may try in order to help your pet stay healthy and feel more comfortable. Some of the treatments may include:


Just like in humans, antihistamines are used to treat some of the symptoms of allergies in your dog and cat, such as that runny nose, those watering eyes, and that swelling and itching of the nasal passages. While antihistamines can help reduce these allergy symptoms, your vet may advise you begin giving your pet antihistamines a couple of weeks before the allergy season begins to help prevent the symptoms from appearing at all.

A Natural Approach

Quercetin, a bioflavanoid with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, does a great job at suppressing histamine release … nature’s antihistamine. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes. Bromelain is derived from pineapples and papain is from papaya. These enzymes help to increase the absorption of quercetin as well as help to suppress histamines. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and, therefore, helps to reduce yeast. Coconut oil and fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids) work to help suppress inflammation in the body as well.

Frequent Bathing with a Mild Shampoo

Your vet may also suggest that you bathe your pet much more frequently during the allergy season to keep those allergens from collecting on their fur and feet. They become like “Swiffers,” collecting allergens and bringing them into the home. Common sense dictates to wash them off. Fall fleas pose an additional problem for your dog; flea shampoo may be suggested in place of a regular pet shampoo. This will help to prevent itchy skin, and many of the other allergy symptoms, from being so severe, as your pet won’t be constantly carrying those allergens around with him or her.

You will also need to keep your pet’s bedding washed.

Some Additional Tips

There are foods that can be pro-inflammatory. During peak allergy season, I recommend that you decrease foods that may be pro-inflammatory. An example of a food group that can exacerbate inflammation in dogs is grain carbohydrates.

If your pet is prone to allergies, eliminate corn, wheat, rice, starches and soy. Increase the amount of fruits, veggies and berries as well as lean meats.

I do not recommend vaccinating allergy-prone pets during allergy season. Allergies cause an inflammatory response, as do vaccines. The last thing your allergic pet needs is more inflammation. Please consult with a holistic veterinarian about titers to measure your pet’s immunity to core diseases as an alternative to automatically vaccinating. If your pet’s titer is sufficient, your pet may not require the vaccine at all this year.

If all else fails, your vet may give your pet allergy shots to help relieve some of those allergy symptoms and help your pet to feel more comfortable.

But don’t forget traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. There are many allergic pets I have helped with Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture. I recommend that if your pet suffers from allergies, you consult with a certified veterinary acupuncturist so that you have access to all the possible treatment and prevention options.

Remember, the best treatment for autumn allergies for your pet is to be able to recognize the symptoms when they first appear and get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan in place. Please check back in the next issue of Natural Awakenings to learn more about allergy testing and getting the proper diagnosis.

Source: Dr. Michel Selmer, of Advanced Animal Care Center, located at 260 Evergreen Ave., South Huntington. For more information, call 631-FOR-PETS (631-367-7387) or visit

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