Could your pet be suffering this allergy season?
In many parts of the world, allergy season is in full bloom. It’s a time of year when human allergy sufferers experience symptoms like irritated eyes, runny noses, sneezing and sometimes even itchy skin. But did you know that humans are not the only species to suffer from allergies? In fact, your cat or dog can also be affected, and their suffering can be at its worst during the human allergy season.
Novartis Animal Health recently conducted a survey of more than 1,250 pet owners in six countries to investigate their awareness of dog and cat allergies. The findings from the Pet Allergy Worldwide Survey (PAWS) report revealed that nearly half (44%) of pet owners are not even aware that their cats and dogs can suffer from allergies, just like humans. In addition, 51% of pet owners did not realize that their pets’ allergies are more likely to peak during the human allergy season, when pollen and other allergens in the environment can cause distress and irritation for human and animal allergy sufferers alike.
Pet allergies can be a problem year-round, and pets typically suffer from allergies through all seasons just as many humans do. But the spring allergy season can be particularly tough on allergic pets, causing agonizing symptoms like constant itching, scratching and licking, which results in skin inflammation and irritation.
“The PAWS survey results highlight that pets can be affected by the same seasonal allergens, such as pollen, as people,” said veterinary dermatologist Dr. Stephen Shaw, (BVetMed, PhD, DVD MRCVS). “It’s vital for owners to recognize the most common signs of pet allergy, including scratching more than usual, licking the same area excessively, hair loss and skin rash. Through increased awareness, the owner’s vet can correctly diagnose the cause, reduce the pet’s suffering and improve a pet’s quality of life.”
Veterinary dermatologist Dr Stephen Shaw talking about allergies in pets:
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The survey, conducted in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and US found that almost half of the pet owners interviewed suffer from an allergy themselves, the most common being hay fever. And pet owners with allergies said they felt more empathy and understanding towards allergic pets as a result.
“I only suffer (from allergies) for 6 to 8 weeks a year,” one survey participant said. “Constant itching all year long must be very distressing for my dog.” Another pet owner said, “Hay fever really impacts my quality of life. I would hate for my cat to go through the same experience.”
Eighty percent of pet owners surveyed said they would like to know more about how to recognize and treat pet allergies. To help, Novartis Animal Health Novartis Animal Health worked with Dr. Claude Favrot, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist (PhD, Dip ECVD) at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, to develop one-minute online tests to help identify cats and dogs that may be suffering from allergies. Available on www.itchfreepet.com, the tests, based on Dr. Favrot’s criteria, offer pet owners an opportunity to learn about the signs of pet allergies and then discuss the findings with their veterinarian.
Seven out of 10 pet owners consider their pet to be part of their family, a key reason they want to do as much as they can to increase the comfort and happiness of their pets. “My cats and dogs are like children,” said one survey participant. “Whatever happens to them makes me suffer.”
Novartis Animal Health offers a number of educational tools on www.itchfreepet.com, including expert videos, the one-minute online tests, and an infographic that provides facts-at-a-glance about both human and pet allergies. The site is all about raising awareness among pet owners of the health issues related to pet
allergies, which according to survey data is an under-diagnosed
and under-treated health problem.
“People with allergies know how miserable they can feel in springtime,” said George Gunn, Division Head of Novartis Animal Health. “By raising awareness of pet allergies and providing quick and easy online educational tools, we hope to help owners recognize the signs of allergic conditions so they can work with their veterinarian to bring year-round relief to their animal companions.
“It’s about improving animal lives,” Gunn concludes, “which is what veterinarians and pet owners put so much time and effort into on a daily basis. These tools can help bring comfort back into a lot of pets’ lives – which is a good thing for all involved.”