In the past few weeks you’ve probably had the sniffles, or have been hearing someone sneezing. Cedar allergies have been very intense this winter. On Dec. 29, Austin broke a record for the highest cedar count in almost three decades with levels at 21,952. But humans aren’t the only ones suffering from the spike. Local veterinarians say cats and dogs can have the same allergies as people.
Dr. Raymond Bouloy with Cypress Creek Pet Care in Cedar Park said that lately, every second or third veterinarian visit has been allergy-related.
“The cedar spike has caused lots of people to bring their pets in,” he said. “We’ve been seeing lots of itchy dogs and flared-up asthmatic cats.”
Although nationally, allergies in pets tend to be the worst during spring and fall, Bouloy said the allergens in this area can make this time of the year just as bad.
For dogs, the most common allergens are on the skin. Humans shed their outer skin coat over time, but they stick to animals because of their fur. Canines can exhibit signs of watery eyes, runny noses and itchy skin and paws.
“Bathing dogs once a week can help wash the allergens off,” Bouloy said. “You can also wipe their feet with a warm washcloth or baby wipe when they come back inside. Dogs come in a lot of contact with the allergens on their paws.”
Cats typically show signs of respiratory distress, especially cats that have existing asthmatic conditions.
“People with indoor kitties can try changing the air filter more often,” Bouloy said. “The air filter draws in some of these allergens.”
He recommends a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier for those living with allergy-prone felines. A HEPA filter works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen and dust mites.
Bouloy said pets can also take anti-histamines, but owners must be very careful about doses before trying any medication and they should consult a veterinarian first.
“For dogs we can use Benadryl and Zyrtec,” he said. “We can also use Apoquel, which treats itching and inflammation. It is non-Cortizone so it doesn’t have any of the negative Cortizone side effects.”
According to Bouloy, cats are less prone to the negative side effects of Cortizone.
So how do you know when you need to take your furry friend to the vet?
“For dogs, if they’re getting sores from scratching they can actually scratch themselves to an infection, called a hot spot,” Bouloy said.
Cats who are having issues breathing can be prescribed an inhaler or a nebulizer.