Creature Comforts -Spring Allergy Season Can Cause Trouble for Our Dogs, Too!

The most common symptom of any allergy in dogs is itching. An allergy to flea bites is the most common type of allergy in dogs, but an allergy to something in the dog’s environment, such as pollen, dust, or exposure to dust mites (actually, the feces of dust mites), is the second-most common allergy. Food allergies are surprisingly a distant third.

Owners who have eliminated flea problems with regular flea and tick elimination programs (topical drops either OTC or prescribed by the vet; sprays; regular baths etc.) and still witness the itching, biting till raw etc. should take note of the pollen counts to see if the dog’s symptoms are worse as the counts rise.

Skin problems, scratching and itching are the main signs associated with pollen allergy. Signs of allergy include alopecia (hair loss) and skin lesions. Upper respiratory tract involvement is common which includes signs such as sneezing, cough, rhinitis (runny nose) and mild type of bronchitis. 

Skin allergies may start during specific seasons but in some dogs it may worsen over time to become a year round problem.

An exam by a vet that includes review of the dog’s symptoms alone is never enough to diagnose a dog’s seasonal allergy. History and a detailed counseling with respect to management, seasonal experiences, vaccinations and habits are usually required. The owner must be aware and be able to describe seasonal effects on his/her dog. Sometimes a seasonal skin allergy is confused with flea bite dermatitis.

A test for determining a pollen allergy is just like that on humans and can be carried out by introducing pollens or artificial histamines under shaved skin and studying the inflammatory response after a few minutes or hours. A dog can be shown to be allergic by this method.

Once it is confirmed that a dog is allergic to seasonal factors, a treatment plan can be prescribed, depending upon the cause of the allergy.

Keeping a dog inside on days when the pollen count is high, wiping down a dog with a damp towel when it comes in from outdoors or a bath in cool water can help, particularly with itch.

Other measures may include some food adjustments, such as reducing the corn, milk, chicken, beef, soy or wheat content in food. In many cases it is noted that food and seasonal allergies are correlated.

Use of some anti–allergic drugs and anti–histamines such as Benadryl work in 40% of dogs – but ask your vet for the proper dosage for your dog. In case of skin scratching and irritation, shampoos containing gentle and soothing yet cleansing agents such as colloid Oatmeal; Coal Tar or Lidocane can be helpful.

Allergy shots are often considered the best way to prevent seasonal allergies but can be expensive.

Fish oil/fatty acid supplements can also be helpful when restoring skin condition as an addition to the diet. These types of supplements can also have a calming effect on the skin. Creatures carries Bio Groom products for allergy relief including Oatmeal Shampoo; Coal Tar Oatmeal shampoo; Lidocane Spray as well as fish oil supplements and chews. Open 7 days a week! Mon-Fri 10-6pm; Sat 10-5pm; Sun 12-4pm PH: 503-429-PETS (7387).