Managing your dog’s allergies

Many dogs develop symptoms in spring because they are allergic to elements of their environment, including pollen, dust mites, plants, fleas & insects.   

Allergies usually develop when a dog is between 1 and 3 years of age. An allergic reaction can result in sneezing, eye discharge, gastro-intestinal upset and most commonly in dogs, itchy skin.  

This itchiness can be complicated by secondary bacterial infections that occur from scratching. Dogs with allergies may lick their paws or rump, have a red rash, develop recurrent ear infections or even suffer hair loss. 

Preventing allergies 

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. As much as possible, avoid contact with potential allergens and make your life, and your dog’s life, easier.  

Plants   

Avoid contact with plants such as Wandering Jew, grass pollens, tomato plants & day lilies. Certain trees, shrubs, grasses and herbaceous plants can cause skin allergies in your pet. 

Plan your walks carefully and if your dog comes into contact with a plant they react to, rinse them after your walk to reduce the number of allergenic proteins on the haircoat or feet. 

Flea control 

Fleas are the pits. Normally, dogs experience only minor skin irritation in response to flea bites.  However, a dog that’s allergic to flea saliva has a severe, itchy reaction to flea bites.  Just one bite causes an intense, long-lasting itch. Allergic dogs usually groom the fleas off themselves due to itch, so you commonly will not see any live fleas in the coat.  

Excellent flea control is the most effective way to keep your pet feeling well. Monthly flea prevention treatments include Comfortis, Nexgard or Simparica. 

  • Regular vaccuming, especially under furniture 
  • Wash all bedding in hot water and dry in the sun 
  • Flea bombs eg Fido’s Flea Bomb 
  • Block access to underneath the house 
  • Treat all pets in the household for fleas (cats are common carriers) 

Treating allergies 

Most cases can be controlled using one or a combination of medication and treatments.   

Antihistamines – The effectiveness of antihistamines varies in each pet. Antihistamines alone are often not enough to control severe allergies. They are useful in mild cases or used along with other treatments.  

Topical steroids – In small areas of irritation, steroid creams and sprays can be useful. Additionally, topical application doesn’t have the same side effects as systemic steroids. Taking your dog for a walk or feeding them immediately after you apply the cream is a good way to make sure the product is absorbed into the skin and not licked off.  

Oral Corticosteroids – This type of medication acts as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant and is very effective at decreasing itching. Although cheap and effective, corticosteroids have a number of short- and long-term side effects to be aware of, including increased appetite, weight gain, incontinence, loss of energy, increased thirst & increased risk of diabetes/other hormonal conditions. 

Because of these side effects, your veterinarian may recommended regular rechecks, urine and blood tests be conducted at various times during your dogs treatment.   

Supplements 

Daily fatty acid supplement can reduce inflammation e.g.: Megaderm, fish oil, evening primrose oil or sunflower oil. Ask your vet for a recommendation. 

Bath time 

Try using a medicated shampoo or footbath such as Malaseb or Aloveen to decrease itchiness. Use this weekly especially in times of high allergens in the environment or fortnightly if itch is under control (too often will remove natural oils from their coat). 

Concerned? 

If you’re concerned that your pet might have allergies, give us a call. Your vet is the ideal person to work out what’s going on and advise you on the best treatment options for your pet. Call us on 4955 6670. 

Meet the Fletcher Vet team

We enjoy a reputation as one of Newcastle’s best vet practices. Dr Paul Robin and his team have been caring for local pets (and their families) since 1998.

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