Does Your Dog Have Springtime Allergy Symptons?
Allergies in dogs manifest in many ways but most often through the skin, causing endless itching, scratching, paw-licking, hot spots, etc. Many people consider these symptoms to be “caused” by fleas, pollens, grasses, and foods. We try our best to minimize our dog’s allergy exposure, but there’s only so much we can do.
🐾symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction or allergies:
🐶Itchiness. Relentless itching and licking!
🐶Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps.
🐶Red, inflamed skin.
🐾Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
If you have ever undergone allergy testing, then you know that diagnosing and narrowing down specific allergies is complicated.
The first thing your veterinarian may choose to do is rule out any other condition that could be causing your dog’s symptoms. If your veterinarian feels that an allergy is a likely cause, he or she may propose allergy testing to try and determine the cause of the allergen that is causing the reaction. However, keep in mind it may not always be possible to determine the exact cause of an allergy with testing.
Food allergies are often diagnosed using an “elimination diet”. A food trial consists of feeding a dog a novel (i.e. one) source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks.
Just like their human Pet Parents, some dogs suffer from the aggravating effects of seasonal allergies as well. Besides chemicals such as those found in household cleaning products, cigarette smoke and certain perfumes, dogs can also be allergic to natural, seasonal substances. This can include plant and tree pollens, mold spores, dust, feathers and fleas.
A dog’s allergy symptoms are generally similar to those experienced by us humans: the immune system overreacts to one or more offending substances, leading to itchiness and irritation. Your dog may lick or scratch themselves, develop irritated, drippy red eyes, or sneeze/cough (or “backwards sneeze”) repeatedly. Some dogs experience itchy, flakey, swollen skin, while others suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. In certain cases, a secondary infection may develop.
Here are a few ENVIRONMENTAL things you should to do to help control any discomfort your dog may be dealing with due to seasonal allergies, and reduce the risk of more serious problems evolving:
🐾ADAPT YOUR DAILY WALK ROUTINE
🐶If possible, avoid walking your dog in the early morning or late afternoon, when pollen levels are typically highest. Steer clear of fields and parks where offending plants are common, and consider an indoor, open-play setting during the offending months.
🐾WIPE YOUR PAWS!
When you return home,
🐶wipe your dog’s body and paws with a moist cloth or a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe from your local pet store. This will remove excess pollen and other allergens from your dog’s fur and skin without the hassle of a full bath. Pay special attention to the paws and in between the toes and pads, as the sensitive skin here is often affected by allergens.
🐶Some pet parents soak their dog’s paws in apple cider vinegar to remove pollen and other substances. 🐾If using this method, mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar. Another solution is to put 🐾boots on your dog’s paws to prevent them from stepping in irritants and then tracking them into your house.
🐾CLEAR THE AIR
Inside your home,
🐶regularly change air filters to cut down on airborne allergens that enter through open doors and windows.
🐶Running an air conditioner or a dehumidifier will help remove moisture from interior air, making it harder for mold to grow in your home.
🐶Minimize the amount of time your dog spends in damp environments, such as basements, bathrooms, or laundry rooms, as these places are more susceptible to mold growth.
🐶Vacuum at least once a week, and remember to clean curtains and rugs that may have picked up dust and pollen.
🐾PROTECT YOUR FURKIDS FROM THE GARDEN
🐶Many popular veggies like onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chives are poisonous to dogs and should be fenced off in a way that prevents your furry friend from getting into them.
🐾DON’T SLEEP ON IT
🐶The surfaces in your home that your dog comes in contact with at bedtime can become covered in allergens, so make sure they’re kept clean by being washed in hot water every week.
🐶Consider putting towels or blankets on top of beds (yours and theirs) and chairs to make this task easier, and keep offending substances away from the surface underneath.
🐶Also, make sure any soft toys your dog plays with get washed regularly.
🐾PET SPA DAY
🐶Prevent dry, itchy skin by giving your dog a bath more often with veterinarian advice. Wash their fur with a gentle, hypoallergenic anti-itch shampoo that contains a soothing ingredient such as oatmeal (unless they have yeasty skin! No Oats for yeast!) aloe, or evening primrose oil. Some dog owners give their pet a 10-minute soak in a bath mixed with a gentle moisturizing oil.
🐶Consider taking your pup to the nearest Groomer to take advantage of their soothing full-service doggie spa treatments.
🐾SUPPLEMENT YOUR DOG’S DIET
🐶Try giving your dog a natural dietary supplement such as fish oil or a fatty acid such as omega-3 or omega-6 oil to reduce itchiness and improve overall skin health.
🐶Coconut oil has also been shown to suppress allergic reactions while contributing to healthier skin.
🐶HYDRATE! Make sure your dog is drinking a lot of water AND that you are CLEANING their water (and bowl) daily to keep it fresh and free of any dust or contaminants.
If your dog won’t stop licking, scratching, and chewing, has red and irritated skin or Alopecia (hair loss), make an appointment to see your vet.
As a last resort and depending on the seriousness of the problem, a Vet can provide more aggressive treatments such as prescription antihistamines, steroids, or allergy shots, also known as 🐶immunotherapy.
From a holistic perspective, however, allergies indicate an internal imbalance and therefore should not be treated as a local, isolated condition. The root cause must be treated.
The aforementioned Antibiotics and steroids are commonly used to treat allergies, and although they may sometimes be necessary, they only mask the symptoms and provide temporary relief.
🐶Homeopathy and 🐶Acupuncture, address the deeper constitutional level and help restore balance to the whole dog. Allergic conditions are still difficult to treat, however, and can take months or even longer to cure.
🐾The most important thing you can do to minimize allergy discomfort and improve the overall health of your furry BFF is to feed a high-quality, natural diet.
◦ 🐶Raw or home-cooked treats and food are best. But, realistically, not everyone has the luxury of time! If you are using dry or canned food, buy the highest quality you can find and afford and supplement with Toppers and Mixers such as healthy fresh food.
◦ 🐶Wheat, corn, soy, and other grains are common allergens for dogs, so it’s best to avoid them. TRY SWITCHING TO duck or fish and potato recipes.
◦ 🐶Dietary supplements can also be helpful. Omega 3 essential fatty acids support the immune system and reduce inflammation and itching.
◦ 🐶Fish oils, such as those found in wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines, are good sources, as is flaxseed oil.
◦ 🐶Antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories such as quercetin (a natural anti-histamine) and pycnogenol are other excellent supplements.
◦ 🐶Excessive vaccinations, environmental and dietary toxins, and emotional stress can trigger or exacerbate allergies.
◦ 🐶Use natural flea and tick control like Lavender to avoid exposing your dog to toxic chemicals.
◦ 🐶Topical treatments like oatmeal baths, aloe vera and calendula gels, and green tea compresses are soothing.
🐾If your dog suffers seasonal allergies and you want to use natural remedies instead of steroids or medications, there are several options available that can help your pup.
🐾These natural remedies can fight those symptoms while avoiding the potentially harmful side effects of many prescription medications. Discuss them with your vet before you make any changes.
Quercetin is a flavanoid, which is basically a compound in plants that give fruits and veggies their colorful pigments. Quercetin has antioxidant, antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps fight cellular activity associated with inflammation, which reduces itching. It’s also used to treat asthma and respiratory issues because it reduces inflammation. Quercetin also has cancer preventing qualities. Supplements come in pill and capsule form. For the right dosage in milligrams, CONSULT YOUR VET.
🐶BROMELAIN & PAPAIN
Bromelain and Papain are proteolytic enzymes, which is a fancy way of saying they break down protein. Bromelain comes from pineapples, and papain comes from papayas. They help increase the absorbtion of quercetin, which is why they are often sold together. Bromelain and Papain also reduce pain and inflammation in mucous membranes and other parts of the body. They should be used with quercetin for the best results.
Do NOT use oat if your dog is itching due to a yeast infection. Oat is a source of carbohydrates, which will only make yeast thrive. However, if your pup’s itching is caused by allergies, an oat bath can be very soothing. Boil oat straw in water and mix it in with your dog’s bath. This will reduce itching, and the bath itself will be helpful in removing many of the allergens that can be present on your dog’s skin or trapped in their coat. You can buy organic oat straw here.
When you use aloe vera for your dog, make sure you are not using the whole leaf. The leaf contains saponins, the yellow or orange substance found in the rind, which is a laxative that can make your dog sick. If you are buying aloe gel from a store instead of getting it from the plant directly, it should be fine.
Aloe has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it perfect for treating burns, itches, and hot spots when applied to the skin. If your dog is itching, apply the gel to the affected areas. The cooling effect often reduces the discomfort immediately. It should be applied twice a day.
Thyme contains flavanoids, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. It also has antiseptic and antifungal properties, which make it great for use where skin and yeast infections are common, like between your dog’s toes. If you’ve noticed your dog chewing at their paws, try making an infusion out of dry or fresh thyme and apply it to the affected areas. Make sure it gets deep between the toes, too.
🐶APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your dog’s paws that will take off some of the pollen and allergens that accumulate. It’s also effective for fighting some of the rashes and itch caused by yeast infections and can be used as a cleaner for your dog’s ears. If you use it in a spray, you can spray it directly onto itchy areas for some relief. It should not, however, be used on open wounds or bites.
Coconut oil has many benefits for your dog, but it also contains lauric acid, which decreases yeast production. It contributes to healthy skin and reduces allergic reaction to fleas. When used in combination with fish oil in your dog’s diet, coconut oil can help suppress inflammatory responses that come with allergies. The antiviral and antibacterial properties of coconut oil reduces itchiness in skin and has added benefits like aiding digestion problems and boosting the immune system.
Thanks for Reading!
Power to the Paw!
Vet Tech Groomer Girl