Preparing your Pet for the Fall

Pet Anxiety and Allergy Symptoms

pet lifeFall is a transition time not only for people, but for pets as well. From spending the summer with their families and enjoying the extra attention (and undoubtedly extra treats), pets are suddenly left at home alone for 6-8 hours each day. Don’t be surprised if your normally happy pet starts “acting out” or becomes destructive. Veterinarians call this “separation anxiety.” Where this becomes an important medical problem for the pet is when they begin ingesting items they find around the house. That’s because pets chew on things as a form of comfort (same as a pacifier for a baby). The chewing releases endorphins in the pet’s brain, which helps them cope with the anxiousness they feel at being left.

They may end up swallowing kids’ toys, cleaning supplies and even clothing! In addition to being destructive to their environment, some pets may start behaviors that hurt themselves, such as chronic licking of their body or in some bird species, plucking their own feathers due to boredom. This can be a serious medical problem if left untreated. While some people may consider pet daycare a luxury, it can actually be a medical treatment option in lieu of antidepressant medications, which are sometimes necessary to give to pets with very serious forms of anxiety.

Fall is that time when grasses, trees and shrubs begin their seasonal changes making allergy sufferers reach for their inhalers or medication. But don’t forget your 4-legged friends! The American Veterinary Medical Association said skin allergies were the #1 reason dogs were brought in to see their vet, and the #4 reason for cats. So how do you know if your pet has allergies?

Cat Allergy Symptoms
• Excessive Grooming
• Eye and Ear Discharge
• Hair loss
• Chewing of the Feet

Dog Allergy Symptoms
• Chronic licking of abdomen, armpit, inner thigh✱
• Ear infection
• Sneezing
• Excess drooling or eye discharge
• Coughing or hacking

Pet allergies can be controlled, and getting your pet tested by a veterinarian is the first step. A simple blood test can reveal a wealth of information that can lead to dramatic improvements in your pet’s health. Sometimes, simply changing their diet can make pets scratch less, increase their energy and ultimately their happiness. Other times, medication is necessary, but the benefits can be life-long.

✱A veterinarian should decide whether the chronic licking is due to allergies or separation anxiety or some other ailment.

 

Written by
DR.HANH CHAU has been in practice for the past 11 years in the DC metro area. She is trained and certified in Veterinary Acupuncture and as a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist. She recently opened Family Veterinary Hospital of South Riding in Chantilly (family-vet.com) 703-327-8425.

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