Spring tips for you and your pet

By Joy Pape, FNP-C and Nicole Cerniello, DVM

Woman with dog on white background. Animal allergy conceptDo you check out the daily weather report to plan your day? How about the pollen and mold count? We get this information by looking at or listening to the weather report. Let’s face it, the weather affects the comfort and health of human beings and other animals.

Dr. Cerniello, DVM, and I understand there are the basics about how this affects you and your pets’ health (see links below). We can’t ignore these and we want to share some tips with you that you may not be aware of.

To this day, I remember my best friend who was dog-sitting her sister’s dog. She had the air conditioner on while driving. She had to make a short stop. She thought, “the car is cool now, I’ll only be gone a few moments, so it’s okay for me to turn off the engine and air conditioning. I’ll keep the windows closed to keep it cool and the doors locked so he doesn’t get stolen.” She came back minutes later. The dog had heat stroke and died.

Most seasonal and heat related deaths and illnesses are preventable and treatable.
This issue, we’d like you to know more about spring seasonal allergies, which, due to climate change have been reported to be more severe and last longer, now usually extending into June.

For Humans

In many areas of the United States, spring allergies begin in February and last until the early summer. Tree pollination begins earliest in the year followed by grass pollination later in the spring and summer and then ragweed in the late summer and fall.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
• Runny and/or stuffy and itchy nose, frequent sneezing, post-nasal drip, itchy tongue, nose or throat. Itchy, watery, red and/or swollen eyes
• Skin rashes such as eczema, contact dermatitis and hives
• Wheezing, shortness of breath such as with asthma
• Dry, persistent cough
• Fatigue
• Headache

Decrease your symptoms by reducing your exposre to the allergan (the substance which triggers your allergy).
Know what you are allergic to. This often means a visit with an allergist.

If you know you have allergies, take the appropriate treatment as prescribed to prevent/decrease your symptoms. Close the windows in your car and home. Avoid using the fan and instead use the air conditioning to filter the pollen.

The best time to be outside is when pollen levels are lowest. They are the highest a few hours after sunrise and the hours after sunset. Windless, rainy, cloudy days are usually better. Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when outside especially when the pollen count is high.

To reduce pollen getting into your eyes when outside, wear a hat with wide brim and sunglasses. Don’t touch your face and eyes. Avoid activities such as lawn mowing or leaf blowing. If you must do these, wear goggles to protect your eyes or if you wear glasses, wear inexpensive goggles over your glasses.
After being outdoors, shower as soon as possible. Pollen collects in your hair and skin and can end up on your pillow which can worsen your symptoms long after your exposure.

For Pets

Spring time can be a tricky time of year for our pets as well. Dogs (and sometimes cats) can also suffer from seasonal allergies. Unlike people, a dog with seasonal allergies does not always mean sneezing and a runny nose. Oftentimes, a dog will present for an ear infection or licking their paws or scratching themselves excessively. The same is true for cats but generally cats will lick at their lower abdomens. Over grooming in cats can have 
a very large variety of causes and I 
recommend that they be evaluated by your veterinarian.

If you believe your dog is suffering from allergies there are a wide range of treatments that can be discussed with your veterinarian including over the counter antihistamines, monoclonal antibody injections and prescription daily oral medications to control itching. In extreme cases, your pet may be referred to a veterinary dermatologist to discuss allergy testing and immunotherapy.

Just like with people, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to allergies in dogs. Allergies can be a life-long concern for some dogs and they may have a food-allergy component as well. It is very important to follow-up with your veterinarian as directed.

Learn more
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for this time of the year:
8 Strategies for a Healthy Spring
Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather!
• National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCHI)
Seasonal Allergies and Complementary Health Approaches
• The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers, 
Management and Treatment
• American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ® (ASPCA®)
Keeping Our Furry Friends Safe During Allergy Season

Joy Pape, FNP-C, CDCES, CFCN is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who believes in and practices holistic health and healing. Dr. Nicole Cerniello, DVM is Medical Director for the Greenwich Village Animal Hospital

Joy wants to celebrate her Very Merry Un-Birthday with you and our wonderful world of dogs in the Village!
June 24 – 11am–1pm | Washington Square Park Dog RunS