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Treating Allergies in Your Dog

Many of us know from experience how much of a headache seasonal allergies can be. Allergy season is one of the worst times of the year, often involving sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. Dogs are not immune to any of these frustrating symptoms by any means.

Pollen from plants and trees, dust, mold spores, feathers and even fleas can trigger allergies in dogs. Some of the chemical-based household allergens include cigarette smoke, cleaning product ingredients and perfumes. Dogs of any breed might be sensitive to common allergens, with varying degrees of sensitivity.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that allergy symptoms occur when a dog's immune system reacts to an allergen. Sneezing, watery eyes and itching skin are common signs in dogs with allergies. Some dogs develop secondary infections and may have more severe symptoms like nausea or vomiting.

The good thing to know is that there are steps that you can take to minimize the chance of severe symptoms and help reduce discomfort from allergies in dogs.

Medications Might Help

Dogs with allergies often require medications, especially if they experience very itchy skin and hair loss, with a lot of scratching and biting. Some dogs scratch and bite itchy areas to the point where they cause infections. Allergy shots or steroids are often necessary for the most severe cases to provide allergy relief for dogs.

However, some dogs benefit from antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine. Antihistamines may help minimize allergy symptoms, including the skin problems that commonly accompany allergies. When these types of medications work well, dogs can get through allergy season with minimal issues.

Supplements To Consider

Natural supplements with fatty acids, such as fish oil and coconut oil, help reduce itching and contribute to your dog's skin health. Omega-3 and omega-6 help contribute to skin health, while coconut oil can reduce allergic reactions. Fatty acids are also beneficial for your dog's cardiac and overall health.

Your dog's drinking water and the bowl used may also play a role in allergies. For the best results, make sure the water is contaminant-free and clean, because contaminated water may contribute to allergy symptoms. Dirty water is also likely to attract algae, which is unhealthy for your dog.

Bathing Your Dog May Help

Additional baths may help prevent dry and itchy skin and other signs of allergies in dogs. Look for shampoos specifically designed to combat itching with ingredients like aloe, evening primrose oil or oatmeal. These types of shampoo ingredients are very soothing for the skin and beneficial to the coat.

Consider mixing essential oils like evening primrose, jojoba or tea tree into the dog's bathwater. Although many people take their dogs to groomers or dog spas for bathing while coping with allergy symptoms, your dog might stay more relaxed just being at home. Medicated baths can be a form of soothing allergy relief regardless of the location.

Keep Beds and Blankets Clean

Washing your dog's bed and blankets in hot water weekly will help keep them free from allergens. Don't forget about any washable soft toys that your dog uses, as these can also collect allergens. If possible, tumble-dry these items on low heat.

One thing that you can do is put towels or blankets over the bedding your dog uses and over chairs or couches. A barrier between your furniture and any allergens on your dog's coat will help to minimize the worst of the allergy symptoms. The rest of your family will also experience more significant relief if they are exposed to fewer allergens around the home.

Change Your Dog's Walking Routine a Bit

Pollen levels are usually higher early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You will want to avoid walking your dog during these times and through areas that have a lot of weeds. If possible, avoid areas where anyone is mowing grass.

When you've learned that the answer to “can dogs have allergies” is yes, you will find it easier to get used to new routines after walking that alleviate these issues. Using fragrance-free pet wipes or a moist cloth to wipe your dog's paws and coat will remove many of the worst allergens. Remembering to wipe your dog after outdoor trips is a good practice during allergy season.

When your dog's paws are susceptible to allergy triggers, you may want to consider some extra steps. Mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water to wipe your dog's paws. Depending on how well your pet tolerates such things, you may want to consider using boots for your dog.

Keep the Air and Surfaces Clean

Make sure the air filters used in your heating and air conditioning system get changed regularly. You may also want to consider running a dehumidifier to eliminate the amount of mold your dog might encounter. The cleaner the air, the less likely your dog will be to encounter any allergens.

Consider restricting or eliminating any time your dog spends around damp areas, like your basement. These types of areas attract mold that can easily aggravate dogs' allergies. Your dog will also avoid joint problems by staying away from damp areas.

Your home should be vacuumed at least once a week, possibly more often when the pollen count is higher than average. For the best results, remember to clean area rugs as well as curtains and drapes. These items accumulate dust and other allergens easily.

Stay on Top of Your Dog's Symptoms

Although relatively simple steps will help most dogs' allergies, some may have severe symptoms that require intervention by your vet. When the symptoms require more aggressive treatment, your vet will know which options are the best for your pet's needs. Be sure to seek your vet's advice if your dog is persistently biting or scratching even after other interventions or if your dog’s skin is possibly infected.