Apr 8, 2024 - News

Spring allergies stink for Twin Cities pets, too

Illustration of a tissue box with the opening in the shape of a dog bone

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More pets, particularly dogs, are being treated for itchy skin and allergies.

Why it matters: Seasonal allergies can be terribly uncomfortable for furry friends, and they can snowball into secondary issues, including skin infections.

The big picture: Many pet owners mistake or dismiss allergy-driven itching and chewing as normal dog behavior, when simple treatments could provide their pet with serious relief.

Yes, but: That's starting to change. Pet insurance company Trupanion reports a 45% increase in allergy claims for insured pets in 2023 compared to 2019, and insurer Nationwide says allergies top the list of health conditions that prompt vet visits.

  • Dog allergy drugs Apoquel and Cytopoint have been used to treat more than 20 million dogs since they were released in 2013 and 2018, respectively, according to parent company Zoetis.

Between the lines: Dogs have many of the same allergies as people in terms of the things they react to β€” including pollen, dander, and mold β€” Memmen said.

Zoom in: Memmen, who owns Gehrman Animal Hospital in Minnetonka, said last year's smoky summer and the unusually warm winter made allergy management more challenging for his furry patients.

Plus: Breeding decisions have made some breeds of dogs more susceptible to environmental or food sensitivities, he added.

What to watch for: Skin problems in pets are "absolutely the No. 1 issue we see with allergies," American Veterinary Medical Association president Rena Carlson told Axios.

  • Allergies can also show up in the ear canal, which "is actually just an extension of the skin," she said.
  • With environmental allergies, the itchiness can appear seasonally. Food allergies can also be to blame, though Memmen notes that those are less common and can be trickier to solve.

What you can do: Treatments can range from simple-over-the-counter medicine β€” even human antihistamines work in some cases β€” to injectable antibody therapies.

  • Anti-itch prescriptions and chewable treatments meant to reduce skin inflammation are available to treat allergic dogs.

The bottom line: If you suspect your pet has allergies, take them to the vet.

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