Anyone that lives in Texas is aware that there is always something blooming, growing or producing pollen. Dogs, just like people, can be allergic to any of these seasonal and environmental hazards and, also like people, the reactions can be mild and short, to severe and much longer in duration. Unfortunately in this state there is no off season for allergies and your dog can experience allergies in all four seasons although they are most common in the growing seasons of spring, summer and fall.
Unlike people, seasonal allergies in dogs are not typically associated with runny eyes and a stuffy nose. Typically what owners will notice is a reaction in the skin that causes severe itching. You may notice your dog scratching continuously even though you have them on effective flea medication and see no signs of a flea infestation. It is important to keep in mind that the causes of seasonal allergies are not usually skin contact but rather inhaled allergens. Of course some dogs may also have an allergic reaction when particular plants or environmental items touch the skin or coat.
Along with non-stop scratching, which can lead to open lesions on the skin and infections known as hot spots, you may also notice other strange behaviors. The dog may rub his or her head on the ground, on you or on your furniture. He or she may also continually be licking at the paws or biting at the feet or between the pads of the feet. The scratching, licking and biting poses a significant risk of infection and mutilation to the skin as the dog is literally going crazy from the itching sensation. To make matters worse, long-term irritation of the skin can lead to infections and permanent hair loss in areas where the dog is constantly scratching.
Vets have a wide range of treatment options for your dog’s seasonal allergies. For very mild cases, all that may be needed is a regular bath with a medicated shampoo during the allergy season. For more significant reactions a dog can be placed on a variety of different types of antihistamines. These can be administered at home and are usually in tablet form. Atopica and TemarilP are very effective in soothing the irritation caused by allergies and preventing your dog from scratching to the point of damaging the skin. If an infection has developed, antibiotics or antifungals will also be needed to heal the skin and allow for healthy hair regrowth.
Remember that your dog doesn’t have to suffer through seasonal allergies. Besides managing your dog to limit exposure to known seasonal allergens there is also a very large toolbox of treatment options that we can use to bring immediate relief for both you and your pet.