Allergy season isn’t just for humans. Dogs often suffer from seasonal and environmental allergies as well, but their symptoms are not necessarily in the form of itchy eyes and sneezing, so it’s not always obvious that your pet is suffering. Take a look at some symptoms and causes of allergies and, more importantly, how you can help limit your dog’s discomfort.
Pay attention to their skin and behavior
If you notice your dog has begun to scratch constantly, pay close attention to where he is scratching and keep an eye out for other signs such as obsessive licking or biting of the skin. Take a close look at his skin to check for any rashes and/or excessive dryness, flaking or loss of hair. Examine all four paws for cracks or redness on or between the paw pads and toes. Also be sure to check ears for redness and/or a waxy discharge. Rashes and ear problems should be treated right away, but it’s best to take your dog to the vet for a professional opinion.
Dry or flaky skin can be caused by a variety of factors and generally isn’t cause for alarm, but if your dog can't seem to stop scratching, the dry skin may be indicative of an allergic reaction to grooming products, food, or even environmental factors such as insect bites, pollen, hay, or grass.
It may seem strange for an animal to be allergic to something as simple as grass, but it’s more common than you’d think. It’s important to note that there are a wide variety of grass types that are grown in different areas and your dog could have allergies to only one or two of them. It’s entirely possible for your dog to be perfectly comfortable rolling around in your yard’s grass but have an allergic reaction to the grass at your local park.
A grass or hay allergy doesn’t have to mean house arrest for your dog
Obviously, exercise and fresh air are essential to the health and happiness of any dog, so you can’t let a contact allergy keep your dog indoors. There are several options to help ease your dog’s discomfort.
If you notice your dog has reactions to a certain area and not to another, talk to your vet about what might be causing the allergy. Try bringing in a grass sample to your vet to see if the reaction might be to a specific type and not all grass. Ideally, you’d be able to figure out what areas irritate your dog’s skin and simply avoid them, but that’s not always an option. If it's the grass growing just outside your home, there isn’t much you can do short of investing in an all-new lawn. It’s also not easy to avoid big parks where dog shows or other events might be hosted. If that’s the case, you can work on treating the problem as you go.
The first step is to limit your dog’s contact with the ground. Try taking along a blanket for your pet to lie on or adding your dog’s kennel to the mix. If lugging around a bunch of equipment sounds too cumbersome, try Wrapsit™ slipcover crate. Wrapsit™ slides onto the base of your basic folding camping chair, slipcover-style, and instantly creates a dry, waterproof, small pet crate beneath your seat. It closes with your chair and becomes the carrying case, so this soft-sided crate is ready to protect your pooch from the elements (and take a load off your feet) anytime and anywhere you pop open your chair!
Another option to consider when contact allergies are a problem, is booties. These might take some patience and time for your pet to get used to - not all pets will tolerate them - but booties can help with grass allergies, as well as, protect your pup's paws from the seasonal heat of the pavement.
Of course, your dog will inevitably come in contact with grass. If allergies seem to be a problem, make sure to thoroughly clean paws, face and any exposed areas, such as the tummy, that may have come in contact with the grass. There are many different types of pet wipes available online and through pet supply stores that can wipe away the offenders and provide significant relief from irritation. (PLEASE NOTE: A Warning About Using Baby Wipes on our Dogs). Take the time to do a little research and find what works best for your dog and his specific problems.
If your dog’s skin becomes dry or cracked you can soothe the skin with Neosporin, but you’ll also need to bandage up the area to ensure that your pet doesn’t lick the ointment off and allergens and dirt don't stick to it. Simple over the counter Benadryl is an oral option for pets who just cannot stop scratching. Make sure you talk to your vet about the dosage according to your dog’s weight.
Because more and more pet owners have growing concerns about the contents and complications of the medicines commonly used for our pets, there has been a lot of study done on a more natural approach to pet allergies. It can take a bit more time and preparation, but reducing the side effects and risks to your pets... well worth the effort.
Outdoor allergies may make taking your pet to events a little more complicated, but knowing what you’re up against will certainly make it easier to handle. Just remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog, and your dog deserves the best!