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Dog allergies worse
My pooch is wearing her “cone of shame” again this summer. No, she has not been a bad girl but rather is suffering from seasonal allergies. Nearly every summer, she begins to itch because of an allergic reaction to pollens in the air. The “halo” is the only way to prevent her from reaching and biting her itchy places, and gnawing a three-inch bare patch of skin on her haunches.
Kona, my golden retriever, and I make frequent visits to the dog park where a hot topic among fur parents has been allergies of both the human and canine kind. It seems that humans and their canine pals are suffering more than usual this year with seasonal allergies as pollen levels have reached all-time highs once again in many locations.
Seasonal allergies cause people to suffer with watery eyes, stuffed-up noses and sinus headaches while dogs tend to itch. This year there may be a lot more itching which shows up as scratching, licking, chewing, rubbing, biting, scooting or head shaking. 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, allergies cannot be cured but rather managed. Unfortunately, Kona caught me off guard this year. I thought at least she, not I, had dodged the allergy problem because she made it through mid-July with no symptoms.
Once her itching and biting got our attention, we started her daily antihistamines, frequent baths and of course, put her in the "halo." Keeping Kona indoors where there is air conditioning and frequent vacuuming also has helped alleviate her problems.
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.
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