Record high pollen levels are causing our canine pals to suffer with more allergies than usual, just like last year. Veterinarians are reporting seeing increased numbers of dog patients with allergies which means your pooch too may be doing more itching and scratching. You can even find information on the internet about using Claritin as an antihistamine for dogs.
Seasonal allergies cause dogs to itch which shows up as scratching, licking, chewing, rubbing, biting, scooting or head shaking. Sneezing is usually not caused by allergies but rather colds. Allergic reactions often affect face, paws, ears, armpits or groin area.
Dog allergies are caused by many of the same allergens that affect people. Most seasonal allergy problems in dogs are caused by pollens, while year-round difficulties may be associated with dust mites, mildew or mold, and food.
One exception would be fleas, the most common cause of allergies in dogs and cats, too.
Itchy reactions are produced by proteins in the saliva the fleas deposit when they bite the dog’s skin. Dogs may develop rashes in response to flea bites. Remedies include frequent bathing, and flea medicines and repellants.
Less commonly, skin outbreaks are caused by coming into contact with irritants, such as flea collars. Discolored skin, strong odor and constant scratching causing hair loss are symptoms of contact allergies.
Itchiness, accompanied by digestive and respiratory problems, may be a sign of food allergies. Over time, dogs may develop food allergies to animal proteins used in pet foods. No food allergy testing is available for dogs. Instead, try different foods to clear up the problem.
Just like in humans, dog allergies cannot be cured but rather managed. One of the best remedies is daily antihistamines and frequent bathing using a hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner. Many human antihistamines are helpful in treating dog allergies. See your veterinarian for the recommended antihistamine dose for your pet.
Giving your pet a deep cleansing in a self-service, pet grooming facility also may help. Keeping your dog indoors where there is air conditioning and frequent vacuuming may alleviate or reduce allergies..
Other suggestions include: flea prevention, change in diet, fatty acids, and allergy skin testing followed by immunotherapy (allergy shots or oral drops). Immunotherapy is not recommended unless all else has been tried and the dog has allergy symptoms at least five-six months of the year.
If your dog has pollen allergy, ask your vet about using over-the-counter antihistamines and the proper dose for your pet. An itchy dog doesn’t always mean allergies but constant scratching with a rash or fur loss may mean its time for a trip to the veterinarian and possibly some of your own medical detective work.