Falling Leaves, Changing Seasons, and Itchy Pets: A Pet Parent’s Guide
By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger
With the change of seasons come the dreaded signs of allergies in dogs and cats. As the days grow shorter and the air turns crisp, autumn brings unique challenges for pets.
Signs of fall allergies present themselves in various ways – from excessive itching and ear infections to gastrointestinal issues and paw chewing. It’s important for pet parents to know the signs, have a plan of action, and ensure your pet’s comfort all season long.
Some dogs and cats have mild symptoms, while others are severely affected by changing seasons, especially during the fall months.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your pet’s skin, ears, and overall well-being in tip-top shape as the leaves come tumbling down.
Understanding Fall Allergies in Pets
Like humans, dogs and cats are affected by allergies. Just like people, pets may experience sneezing, itching, ongoing ear infections, and even respiratory issues.
Unlike humans, our pets can’t tell us that something isn’t right. Some other common by not often talked about symptoms of fall allergies in dogs and cats include:
- Hives or sores on the skin
- Anal gland issues
- The skin has an odor
- Itchy or runny nose and eyes
- Swollen or red paws
- Hot spots
- Balding of the fur in spots
- Excessive shedding
- Coughing or hacking
Cats experience these symptoms and may also groom themselves excessively due to irritation from allergies.
“Allergies in our pets are very common due to some pollen that is circulating,” says Dr. Lindsey Butzer. “The weather and the temperature changes can make pets experience itchiness, skin irritation, sneezing, and coughing.”
She recommends bathing your pet at least three times a week when experiencing allergies. Dr. Butzer’s favorite itchy relief shampoo is the ZYMOX® Shampoo with LP3 enzyme system.
Things That Pets Are Allergic to In Autumn Months
- Pollen: Many plants release pollen in the fall months, which can cause sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and nasal congestion.
- Mold spores: As leaves fall and begin to decay, mold tends to grow in these damp, dark locations. Mold spores that contact your pet’s paws or skin can cause irritation.
- Dust mites: As the heat goes in on homes, dust mite populations increase and can instigate coughing and itching in pets.
- Insect bites: Insect bites continue in the autumn months. They cause welts, skin irritation, and even allergic dermatitis.
- Plants and weeds: Fall leaves and plants look pretty, but they can cause allergic reactions in our pets. Be cautious of your pet’s reaction to them.
- Ragweed: Ragweed, sagebrush, and other fall allergens may cause similar reactions to pollen in our pets.
- Pests and Parasites: Fleas and ticks ramp up in the cooler months as they start to live indoors by hitching a ride on your pets.
- Leaf piles: Dogs who roll in leaves may itch afterward. Be sure to bathe or wipe their coat and paws down with pet-safe wipes.
- Fall foods: Pumpkins and squash sound delicious, but some pets have food sensitivities that often manifest as gastric issues or itchy skin.
- Stress and seasonal changes: As the daylight decreases and pets spend more time indoors, everything from changes in routine to indoor chemicals can wreak havoc on their immune systems.
How To Help Allergic Pets When Seasons Change
Your pet probably feels frustrated with allergic symptoms, but they can’t tell you exactly what hurts or feels uncomfortable. Here are a few things pet parents can do right away to minimize allergic symptoms.
Use an air purifier indoors to reduce allergens in the home.
Check with your veterinarian for allergy testing and treatment options, including antihistamines, allergy shots, or corticosteroids.
If your pet suffers from ear infections, check with your veterinarian about ZYMOX antibiotic-free remedies without antibiotics.
Check your pet from head to tail for fleas and ticks. Don’t stop using preventative treatments as the seasons change.
Stock up and replenish your pet’s fall first aid kit, which should include ZYMOX Advanced Enzymatic Shampoo and Conditioner, ZYMOX Topical Spray and Cream with 0.5% hydrocortisone, and the ZYMOX Ear Cleanser for gentle maintenance of dog and cat ears.
Here’s to a happy, healthy fall season for you and your pets!
About the Author
Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and Today.com. She is the founder of the award-winning blog FidoseofReality.com and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.