Seasonal Allergies and Your Dog

Seasonal Allergies and Your Dog

by Kathy Green

The warm summer months provide wonderful opportunities for you and your dog to frolic in the outdoors, but it also brings a problem that plagues many dogs: summer allergies. You may not even know your dog suffers from summer allergies, particularly if your four legged friend is one with a thick coat of fur, or is a longhaired, fluffy type. 

Facts:

  • There are primarily two types of allergies: food allergies and environmental allergies.
  • Allergy symptoms in humans usually involve the respiratory tract, while allergies in dogs more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation
  • Summertime is the high season for environmental allergies such as itchiness,  hot spots, and reactions to insect bites, especially fleas and grass allergies.
  • About one in 10 dogs gets some type of skin allergy from components in the air.
  • If symptoms continue year-round, it's more likely sensitivity to something more constant in the environment, or to something dietary.
  • Breeds that commonly suffer from allergies include Shar-Peis, English bulldogs, Labrador retrievers and boxers.

Causes:

  • One of the best ways to find what environmental elements a dog is allergic to is to pay attention to what time of year the symptoms present themselves. 
  • If the allergies occur in May, June or July, the dog is typically allergic to grass pollen. If the symptoms appear in late summer, weed pollen is probably the cause.

Signs:

  • If your pet has allergies, her skill will become very itchy. She'll start scratching excessively, and might bite or chew at certain areas of her body. 
  • She may rub herself against surfaces like furniture, or she may rub her face against the carpet trying to relieve the itchiness.
  • Skin may become inflamed and tender to the touch with continued scratching. 
  • Hot spots can develop as well where the skin will be very red, and often there is bleeding and hair loss.
  • Dogs with allergies also often have problems with their ears. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed.
  • Signs your pet's ears are giving him problems include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odour and a discharge from the ears.

Treatment:

  • Veterinarians recommend a common sense approach for canine allergy sufferers.
  • Frequent baths give immediate relief to an itchy pet and wash away the allergens on the coat and skin. Make sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo. 
  • Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over her indoor environment.
  • Keep the areas of your home where your pet spends most of her time as allergen-free as possible. Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding frequently using simple, non-toxic cleaning agents rather than household cleaners containing chemicals.
  • Move your pet to an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods that create or worsen inflammation are high in carbohydrates. Your allergic pet's diet should be very low in grain 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diet of all pets -- particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies is very beneficial. This can be done by omega--3 piles or adding fish oils to your dog's food.
  • Coconut oil is also recommended for allergic pets. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast and can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.

Like human allergies, canine allergies can be diagnosed and treated very successfully. Be aware and do not let your dog suffer unnecessarily.