Treatment Options for Environmental Allergies in Cats and Dogs Living in Florida

gray cat smelling  dandelion.

Environmental allergies in cats and dogs may spike seasonally, but symptoms can also persist year-round. Mold, dust mites, and pollen are common allergens that trigger incessant scratching, licking, ear infections, and, let’s face it, overall misery. How do pet owners help their allergic pets cope with atopy, or atopic dermatitis? It’s not always easy or straightforward, but there are specific strategies to treat and soothe the skin, reduce triggers, and increase comfort. 

Seeking Help

If your pet has been scratching or licking themselves obsessively, it is time to understand why. These behaviors aren’t meant to drive the household crazy; often these are the only ways that pets find relief from the never-ending itching. This is especially worrisome if they break the skin, which allows bacteria to enter the wound and cause an infection. 

Genetic Predispositions and More

Some breeds, including German shepherds, golden retrievers, shar Peis, and labs, are more commonly diagnosed with environmental allergies than other breeds. That said, any individual animal, including house cats in Florida, can be affected by seasonal or airborne triggers

Also, some medications can cause allergic reactions in some pets. 

Deepening Our Understanding

Our team at South Seminole Animal Hospital is trained to identify and treat allergies in pets. First, we have to figure out if symptoms are indeed caused by environmental allergens. Once flea bite dermatitis, medication reactions, and food allergies are ruled out, we can determine the best course of action for your pet. 

A clinical diagnosis of atopy may result in creating a plan that includes any or all of the following possible treatments:

  • Specially-formulated shampoos and conditions soothe itching. Weekly bathing with formulated products can not only soothe the skin but remove any allergens trapped on the fur, skin, or paws. Daily rinses may be helpful or wiping down the coat can help reduce the allergen’s potency. 
  • Medications, including antihistamines like benadryl can reduce the impact of itchy skin. We may try to incorporate more than one medication to combat symptoms. Pets should only be given these medications under the care of a veterinarian.
  • Injectable or oral steroids work quickly to reduce painful scratching. Typically for short-term use only. 
  • Non-steroidal medications can be used to control itching.
  • Fatty Acids can deliver powerful anti-inflammatory benefits to pets with allergies, but their impact may take between 1-3 months. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be administered in chewable tablet, liquid form, powder or in capsule.

The Long View

Allergy testing and immunotherapy may be relied on to understand more about a pet’s triggers. Depending on the case, it can take a year or so to get a handle on the right balance of medications and treatments. There is no cure for environmental allergies in cats and dogs. However, a consistent approach to managing their symptoms can have a very positive effect on their health. 

Cats and dogs in Florida that suffer from environmental allergies can continue to enjoy long, healthy lives when their symptoms are controlled. Please call us at (407) 831‑5205 with any questions about your pet’s health.