Can Dogs Get Hay Fever?
20 March, 2018
Spring is here and our dogs will be outdoors even more! And just as we get allergic reactions to the environment or what we call hay fever, dogs can actually have the similar condition. The medical term is called atopy and it is the second most common allergy in dogs, besides fleas, and is caused from an allergic reaction to something dogs breathe from the environment.
Signs that your dog might have atopy
Pollen, mold, fungi and even the house dust mite make atopic dogs suffer itchiness on the front half of their body. They chew, bite, lick and rub their face, chest, armpit area, and feet. A rash or sore may develop. Atopic dogs also commonly suffer from chronic ear infections. They can lose fur from the excessive scratching.
Diagnosing atopy can be tricky because the symptoms are similar to flea allergies
Dogs are often sensitive to more than one thing. Your dog might be allergic to both fleas and to pollen, and while each may not cause him problems, but the combination of the two pushes him over his allergy threshold so that he is itchy. Every allergic dog has an individual “itch” threshold, which is the amount of allergen necessary to provoke signs of disease.
Your vet may want to rule out other skin issues – such as fleas, bacterial infections or flea bite hypersensitivity before concluding that your dog has canine atopy. Usually intradermal skin testing helps diagnose atopy.
Once your vet has determined that it is canine atopy, they may prescribe a variety of medications, including antihistamines, antibiotics, cortisone, and dietary supplements, depending on the severity and your dog’s breed.
Treatment for atopy
Completely eliminating exposure to environmental allergens is impossible with dogs that are typically indoor/outdoor pets. Reducing indoor exposure can be helpful and cleanliness is key.
Some tips to help reduce environmental allergens:
Anything that captures allergenic substances should be reduced or eliminated. If you can remove some of the rough surfaces like carpeting and upholstery for linoleum or wooden floors, that helps.
Water filters on a vacuum help scrub particles from the air. Avoid sweeping, which tends to float allergens rather than capture them.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter systems can be helpful, too.
Some dietary supplements can help with atopy
Some dogs benefit from dietary supplements of the essential fatty acids that help promote healthy skin and fur. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important to skin health and also have anti-itching properties.
The herb calendula can be very soothing to irritated skin. You can find calendula tincture at health food stores. Add 10-to-15 drops of the calendula tincture to four ounces of water; put in a spray bottle, and spritz the itchy areas as often as needed to relieve the discomfort.
Regular rinsing reduces your dog’s exposure and scratching. Bathe puppies two or three times a week with plain water. A colloidal (oatmeal) shampoo will naturally soothe itchy skin. Between baths, rinse the pup’s feet after he’s been out in the grass to reduce paw pad exposure.
Add honey to food and baths: just like us, eating honey can be an effective remedy against pollen-allergies, and to build a natural resistance to local pollen. Only allow very small doses – a couple of teaspoons at most. Honey can also prove to be an effective addition to a shampoo formula to help soothe irritation
Even though eliminating all allergens may be impossible, by reducing the amount of exposure can certainly help all symptoms. As always, see a vet to make sure to get the proper diagnosis.
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