Achoo! This is a sound heard around our household as Spring and Summer sets in and everything begins to bloom. Think about how miserable you are - your eyes running, your nose dripping and a general feeling of sluggishness. Just like their dog owners, dogs can have allergies too!
Dog allergies are known as canine atopy and although there is no cure, dog allergies can be managed. An allergen may be inhaled or the dog may absorb it through direct contact with his skin. Many dog allergies occur between 1 - 3 years and can be seasonal, while other dogs will experience allergies year round.
According to the ASPCA, here are some symptoms to look for and potential causes of allergies.
Symptoms of Dog Allergies
- Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
- Increased scratching
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
- Itchy ears and ear infections
- Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
- Paw chewing/swollen paws
- Constant licking
What Can Dogs Be Allergic To
- Tree, grass and weed pollens
- Mold spores
- Dust and house dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Prescription drugs
- Fleas and flea-control products (The bite of a single flea can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)
- Cleaning products
- Insecticidal shampoo
- Rubber and plastic materials
What To Do If Your Dog Has Allergies
Two of the most common sources of allergies are fleas and food. Fleas can be controlled with a flea control program, and food allergies involve trial and error in changing dog foods. The hardest allergies to combat are the environmental ones. It is best to talk with your vet before starting any program so the dog's allergies can be pinpointed. Here are some suggestions to help your dog if he is experiencing allergies.
- Make sure to wash his dog bed at least once/week, and vacuum floors, carpeting and anything else that gathers dust.
- Certain dogs may need to be bathed weekly to remove the allergens from your dog's skin and relieve any itching. Discuss with your vet the best shampoos for your dog, because frequent bathing can dry our your dog's skin.
- There are several flea-prevention products that can be applied monthly to your dog's skin.
- Certain antihistamines such as Benadry with omega fatty acid supplementation can be helpful. This medication counters the release of histamines, which are responsible for the itching and irritated skin. Just like with humans, you may have to try different antihistamines to find the one that works best for your dog because different dogs respond differently to different medications.
- In extreme cases, cortisteroids may be prescribed by your vet on a short term basis to break the itch-scratch cycle. These are not recommended on a long-term basis because of the side effects.