Can you believe that Spring is just a few weeks away? When I think of Spring the thought of allergies comes to mind before the thought of tulips and chirping birds. Soon the beautiful trees and flowers we yearn to see during the winter months will be releasing pollen (and my medicine cabinet will be releasing 180 milligrams of Allegra!) Did you know that dogs also suffer from allergies? It’s true! Our darling canines have to be treated with topical creams and antihistamines, and in some cases immunotherapy, during allergy season just like we do. If your dog suffers from allergies it is important to keep their outdoor activities to a limit. Even though you may think, “today is a great day to take the dog for a walk”, bear in mind it may be a better idea to stay indoors. The more you protect your dog from allergens, the more comfortable they will be.
Here are a few allergies and symptoms to look out for during the upcoming “allergy season”. Bear in mind, these allergies can come at any time– not just during the spring.
- Inhalant Allergy – Inhalant allergies can be the most worrysome because they can cause respiratory problems. Inhalant allergies, also known as atopy, occurs when a dog breathes in pollens from weeds, grass, and/or trees. This type of allergy causes severe itching because the system produces a protein, IgE. What happens is the protein becomes attached to the tissue cells and irritating chemicals prompt itching. Another symptom of atopy may include respiratory problems such as wheezing and/or coughing. Though there is no treatment available for respiratory allergies, antihistamines and immunotherapy are used to treat itching.
- Contact Allergy – Contact allergies are most common during the Spring season due to the release of pollen in the air. Just as humans experience swelling of the eyes and itchy skin, dogs also experience swelling in certain areas as well as severe itching. If you notice your dog biting their paws and/or you see flaky skin contact your veterinarian and discuss treatment for a possible allergy.
- Flea Allergy – Though I religiously “Frontline” my Basset Hound, I know when there are fleas present. There have been times when I may have been a week or so late on the Frontline. Fleas do not waste any time finding a home on my Basset Hound. Grr! Make no mistake, she gets her Frontline treatment right away! I am fully aware of when these pesky brats come around because my skin is very sensitive to fleas. Crazy, right? My skin becomes irritated and flaky the moment a flea comes near me. When a dog is allergic to fleas, severe itching and swelling will occur. As if fleas weren’t bad enough, when a dog is allergic to fleas they will often become so itchy they will tear apart their flea bites. Though fleas chill out during the winter you can bet that they are ready to make their entry once spring rolls around. Double Grrr! PLEASE, for the safety and comfort of your dog, be vigilant when it comes to protecting them from fleas. I always feel a sense of relief when I look at my two-year-old Basset Hound and say, “time to kill those buggies!” Once you treat your dog(s) for fleas be sure to wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water and vacuum your home thoroughly.