Our dogs are susceptible to the same kinds of allergies we humans are, and they suffer just as much. Seasonal allergies can broadside a dog that has been clean and clear-eyed for months. Suddenly she seems to be constantly scratching, biting her fur, chewing on her feet and scrubbing her eyes and face against the carpet. Something has bloomed, and her immune system has mounted a huge offense. You may be reacting to the same allergen with different symptoms, and you’re just as miserable as your dog.
If these are new symptoms for your dog, have your vet check her over to see if there is something going on besides hay fever. Continuous scratching can lead to broken skin and skin infections. Ears and eyes can also become infected as a result of allergic reactions. The vet may give you antibiotics to dose your dog with for several days, and might recommend an antihistamine. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride is readily available and generally safe for dogs. Your vet can tell you the correct dose for your dog’s size.
Extreme symptoms might call for more drastic steps. Although a few vets may suggest it right away, a steroid shot should be a last resort to give the dog some relief from serious itching. Steroids cause increased drinking and increased urination as side effects in the short term. Long term use can lead to more serious issues. It’s best to avoid steroids completely if at all possible.
Other things besides pollen can cause increased scratching and chewing, and your vet can help you sort through the possibilities. Many of the same treatments can be applied to other types of allergic reactions, but if the verdict is seasonal allergies, you can save wear and tear on your nerves and wallet by not going through the process of testing one allergen at a time to learn exactly what causes your dog’s allergies.
If you can remove some of the most common offenders like ragweed from your yard, it might help some. That pollen can still be carried into your pet’s vicinity by wind and on shoes and clothing, so you might notice only a slight decrease in symptoms.
One sure way to give your dog some relief is to keep her clean. Frequent cool baths with a mild dog shampoo will wash off the allergens and reduce itching. Don’t ignore her feet when bathing. Allergens and dirt collect between the toes and continue to aggravate if the bath isn’t thorough enough. Daily foot baths can help on days when a full bath isn’t needed.
You can save yourself the trouble of washing your dog’s feet every time she goes outside and comes back in by teaching her to wear boots outdoors. Canine footwear comes in a variety of styles and materials and can protect your dog’s feet from more than just allergens.
Another thing that can help is clean bedding. Having an extra dog blanket or two on hand so that you can rotate and wash them frequently will make that job less trouble. Running the vacuum cleaner more frequently during allergy season can reduce the allergens in the house and make everyone more comfortable.
Remember that the end of summer can also mean an end to the discomfort for your dog and the extra work for you. Don’t forget, though, that spring and summer will come again, and you might want to stock up on antihistamines, soothing dog shampoos, and doggie booties at the same time you’re buying extra boxes of tissues for yourself. A dog with seasonal allergies isn’t exactly low maintenance, but maintenance means spending more time with your buddy and making sure she’s comfortable. After all, that’s what having a dog is about.