It’s that time of the year again, and while you may be noticing the changes in the plant life, you might also be noticing some unpleasant changes in your four-legged friends. While your pet can be sensitive to allergens all year round, it is said that about 10 to 20 percent of dogs show signs of Spring time allergies. Just like humans, our pets can be very sensitive to outdoor allergens such as trees, grass and weed pollens, dust, house and storage mites, fleas, and indoor and outdoor molds.
There are a few different types of allergies, but we can categorize them into three distinct groups: food, external, and environmental. Since food allergies are relatively self explanatory (and will be saved for another post), we’ll focus mainly on external and environmental which are the two that tend to flare up the most during this time of the year.
External allergies are commonly associated to fleas and flea bites, which develop because the affected dog has a hypersensitivity to the flea’s saliva. Flea allergies range from moderate to severe, but the symptoms tend to be the same: hair loss, redness, scabbing or hotspots (especially over the rump and base of tail), as well as coat odor and skin thickening. If you don’t notice the physical symptoms straight away, your dog’s behavior can be a key indicator as well. If you notice your dog excessively biting or licking themselves check your dog’s coat for fleas. Keep in mind fleas are incredibly hard to spot sometimes, especially on black dogs and dogs with an undercoat. (A flea comb, which can be picked up at your local pet store, can help you with this process.) If you still aren’t sure, take your dog to your vet and they’ll be able to do a thorough check for you.
The best way to deal with fleas is to prevent your pup from getting them in the first place. (Fleas are incredibly difficult to deal with, especially once they’ve made their way into your house and begin living in your carpets.) Lucky for us, there are plenty of flea prevention and control products at your local pet store, and if you’re not too sure what’s best for your dog, ask your vet! However, if you do find yourself in the middle of a flea-tastrophe, products such as Capstar and Comfortis are fast acting oral capsules that are absorbed into the bloodstream and kill fleas fast.
Environmental allergies are very similar to human allergies. Unlike humans, it is much more difficult to pinpoint the exact allergen that is causing your pet discomfort. Below is a diagram of the physical signs that your pet may be suffering from environmental allergies:
If you notice your pet rubbing at their face/eyes/ears, obsessively licking or biting their feet and coat, or excessive scratching, they might be sensitive to an environmental allergen. Do not allow this behavior to continue since it can lead to infections, irritation, open sores, and ultimately an incredibly uncomfortable dog.
Though you can’t completely put an end to an environmental allergen, there are some simple steps you can do to help reduce exposure to these irritants:
- Keeping windows/doors shut during the spring.
- Take your shoes off before you come into the house.
- Give your dogs coat and feet a good wipe down before coming into the house.
- Run an air purifier in the house.
- Vacuum your house often and wash your pets bedding frequently.
There are a few things you can personally do to relieve your pet’s discomfort such as:
- Soothing oatmeal and aloe baths.
- Apple cider vinegar can soothe dry and irritated skin.
- Herbal medications like Calendula ointment can relieve itch.
- Supplement your pup’s diet with flaxseed oil, which is said to reduce the effects of allergic reactions.
- Cleanse your pet’s ears with an ear solution such as Zymoxch Ear Solution which uses enzymes to combat antibiotic resistant microorganisms.