Is your pet sneezing? At this time of year, the problem could be spring allergies. Just like humans, many pets have allergies to pollen, dust, or mold, and those allergies often flare up during the spring. Nobody likes sneezing and a runny nose, so it’s important to get relief for your pet. Of course, sneezing can be a symptom of a larger problem– only a veterinarian can tell you if your pet has allergies or not. Always schedule a veterinary appointment for a sneezing pet, particularly a bird or rodent, to eliminate more serious health problems.
With your veterinarian’s permission (most will give it over the phone), you can administer a children’s Benadryl tablet to a sneezing dog (see: how to give pills to dogs). Cats are more sensitive to medication, but most also tolerate Benadryl well. Your vet can also prescribe stronger drugs for stubborn allergies.
For rats only, a small piece of chocolate may provide temporary relief from sneezing by coating the throat. Do not give chocolate to other pets!
In addition to medicine, until you can get to the vet, make sure you use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to clean your home and remove allergens. Running a HEPA air filter in the Spring is a good idea for most pet owners. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, opening the windows and doors can also help. Indoor air is often up to 100 times more contaminated with allergens than outdoor air, because “dirty” air comes in but can’t circulate back out!
Eliminating Allergies in the Long Term
Most pet parents can eliminate or reduce their pets’ allergies over time by working to support the immune system’s healthy function. Allergies occur when an animal’s immune system identifies a particle like dust or pollen as a harmful invader and works overtime to rid the body of the interloper, producing mucus, swollen sinuses, and sneezing. Allergies are, in essence, an immune system malfunction.
If your dog, cat, or ferret has allergies, consider switching (after doing plenty of research) to a Whole Prey Model raw diet. This diet supports healthy immune function much better than do commercial foods. Consider also reducing the number of vaccinations given to your pet by working with a holistic veterinarian to decide which shots are really necessary, and giving the necessary ones singly rather than all at once. Plenty of exercise will also help, and with a veterinarian’s permission, you can try adding a little local bee pollen to your pet’s diet to accustom their system to allergens and reduce allergic response.
I said it in the first paragraph, and I’ll repeat it here– sneezing isn’t always a symptom of allergies. It could be a symptom of an upper respiratory infection, or even something as serious as pneumonia or encephalitis. A sneezing pet should see a vet, unless the vet recommends using an over-the-counter medication for a few days and scheduling an appointment only if symptoms don’t improve.