Your Dog and Springtime Allergies

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Spring is in the air!  It’s time for long walks in the park and open windows.  We all love warm days and our dogs love it too!  Warmer weather also means plants, trees, and fungi are starting to grow.  The “hay fever” we may experience as humans; our dogs may experience too.  

Warm and humid air brings the growth of molds, fungi, and dust mites, indoors, combined with plants growing and blooming outdoors, may lead to some problems in your dog’s health.  Like humans, dogs may experience allergic reactions to the elements and the onset and duration may vary widely depending on what your dog is allergic to.

The most common signs that your dog has a chronic, seasonal allergy are itchy and/or infected ears, and constantly licking their feet.  Skin rash and infection on the under belly, inside your dog’s thighs, and in the groin area, are also common.  Both allergy and secondary skin infections cause itching and discomfort for your dog.   

Your dog’s health is important.  You want your dog to enjoy the springtime without suffering through allergic reactions and the secondary infections that could arise.  Painful, raw, irritated skin and even highly resistant skin infections are some of the risks involved if allergies go untreated.  

Allergy associated skin infections are due to suppression of the skin’s normal defense mechanisms and usually involve bacteria normally found on the skin, not an infection from another animal.  For relief, the allergy and the secondary infection must be treated.  

A simple blood test is the gold, standard approach to diagnosis.  The blood test is fully accurate to determine what it is that is causing your dog’s allergic reactions to the environment.  The evaluation and response to therapy once the allergy is identified may take a little time.  In any case, antibiotics are used to control secondary infections.  Anti-itch medications are used for comfort, and to control rashes, and keep your dog from scratching.  

If you suspect your dog has an allergy, see your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent a serious infection from occurring.  Your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan that may involve allergy shots.  The use of allergy shots (hyposensitization) can be used to train your dog’s immune system to not react inappropriately to certain allergens. The shots are generally given initially at 3 day intervals for a short time, but the intervals between injections lengthen to every 3-4 weeks for a period of two to four years.  These injections are typically given by the owner but can be given by the clinic if the owner desires.

There is no cure for allergies, but the symptoms and risks can be managed significantly by being proactive and contacting your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has allergies. Itching and dangerous infections can be avoided by staying on top of your dog’s health and getting your dog the tests and treatment needed.  Seasonal allergies do not have to stand in the way of enjoying the sunshine and warm weather.  Your veterinarian is always there to help!

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