Did you know that animals, such as dogs and cats, can experience asthma and allergies just like humans do? For that reason, the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation designated May, a peak time for allergy symptoms, as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. While this campaign is directed at humans, conscientious pet owners should be able to recognize the way their pets may present symptoms of asthma and allergies.
Common Asthma Triggers in Pets
- Pollens (grass, trees)
- Air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust
- Smoke (fireplaces, tobacco products)
- Household sprays and chemical solutions, such as hair spray, flea spray, air fresheners, household fragrances, and personal perfumes
- Cat litter dust
Common Asthma Symptoms
- Coughing and sneezing
- Breathing difficulties (i.e. wheezing, labored breath, shallow breath)
- Poor appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Pale or blue gums* [If you spot this, go to your vet immediately.)
When we took in Garrus and Charlie, we noticed that Garrus occasionally wheezed. We had not seen this behavior in previous cats, so we brought it up with our vet. Dr R thought he might have a mild case of asthma and suggested we make a log of how often he wheezed and if we noticed other symptoms. If his wheezing episodes became more frequent or more severe, we would investigate the issue further.
At the same time, we transitioned the boys from using regular litter boxes, which they used while in foster care, to Cat Genies after they fully integrated into the household. One of the things we like most about Cat Genies is there is no dust from cat litter! Aaron discovered that safflower seeds are excellent, environmentally-friendly substitutes for the plastic granules that a Cat Genie uses. We have since noticed that Garrus wheezes infrequently now, and Dr R was most pleased by this report. Dr R remarked that she had another feline patient that displayed asthma symptoms but these decreased after her owner switched to a litter that produced much less dust. She thought the same thing had happened with Garrus.
Common Allergies in Pets
- Contact: Medication or detergent found in flea collar (example)
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Allergic to flea saliva
- Food Allergies: Some pets don’t tolerate certain ingredients well such as beef, chicken, soy, and wheat.
- Inhalant: Indoor or outdoor environmental factors (smoke, pollen, etc.)
Common Allergy Signs in Pets
- Excessive grooming
- Excessive itching
- Paw chewing
- Skin inflammation
- Ear infection
If you want to learn more about pet allergies and asthma, check out Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic, Pet MD for Canine Asthma, Pet MD Dog Allergy Center, Pet MD for Feline Asthma, 7 Common Cat Allergies (Pet MD), Pet Partners,and Canna Pet. If you think your pet may have asthma, allergies, bronchitis, respiratory issues, or other health concerns, please contact your veterinarian!