What Do I Do If My Dog Has Allergies?

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People are always wondering….. What do I do if my dog has allergies? Summer has arrived and we need answers! Well not to worry……Pete The Vet has them!

Pete The Vet

So people have been asking me what to do about their pet’s allergies. I think a lot of folk know that allergies are much worse in summer months and that dogs are affected very very commonly so what can they do to minimize the impact of allergies on their pets? The first thing is to much sure you have the diagnoses correct because allergies can cause a number of different things but the most common people are aware of is itchy skin.

The thing is there is also a dozen of causes of itchy skin, so before getting all fussed about your dog being allergic make sure that’s the right diagnosis. So as a vet when i see an itchy dog and there’s a number of things I do to rule out other causes. That includes just checking the dog over, that’s a patching position that is typical for allergic dogs. It includes sometimes taking skin scrapings, sometimes giving treatments to rule out fleas and other parasites. There are other things that we do as well to make sure it is definitely a diagnosis of allergy.

So people have been asking me what to do about their pet’s allergies. I think a lot of folk know that allergies are much worse in summer months and that dogs are affected very very commonly so what can they do to minimize the impact of allergies on their pets? The first thing is to much sure you have the diagnoses correct because allergies can cause a number of different things but the most common people are aware of is itchy skin. The thing is there is also a dozen of causes of itchy skin, so before getting all fussed about your dog being allergic make sure that’s the right diagnosis.

So as a vet when i see an itchy dog and there’s a number of things I do to rule out other causes. That includes just checking the dog over, that’s a patching position that is typical for allergic dogs. It includes sometimes taking skin scrapings, sometimes giving treatments to rule out fleas and other parasites. There are other things that we do as well to make sure it is definitely a diagnosis of allergy.

The big difference is allergy to what? Allergy to food or allergies to something in the environment like pollens and dusts. So they are quite separate things. Allergies to food isn’t seasonal and aren’t affected by summer months. Allergies to pollens and dusts obviously is. So before we start talking about allergies generally, get specific, get a diagnosis from your vet, that your dog is definitely allergic to pollens and dusts. So the next thing would simply be to regularly remove the allergens for the contact with your dog’s skin.

What the means really in practice is when you get home after work you keep a basin by the back door and you dunk each foot of the dog into the basin and give it a little swirl around and that will remove a lot of the pollens and dusts from the feet. And if your dog is itchy all over, you might extend that and give him a bath all over after a walk in the countryside. And that’s a double effect, first of all for removing allergens but you can also use it to sooth your dog’s coat and skin.

So for example you can go to your vet and get special, oatmeal based shampoos. The oatmeal base actually soothes the itchy areas. That’s really helpful. You can also get special, antibacterial shampoos that minimize the bacterial load on your dog’s coat and often it’s a bacterial yeasts that aggravate the dog’s allergy so that definitely can help dogs a lot as well. Regular shampoo, regular washing, after a walk can be a really useful thing. Thats for the coat generally and the skin, what about the ears? Ears are a special case and are often affected by allergies, really just because the are an extension of the skin.

The ear is the skin going in the way, but because it goes in the way, it gets very warm and moist inside the ear and that warmth and moisture means if it gets a little bit itchy, it gets very very itchy, very quickly and bacteria and yeast can multiply in there very rapidly so you end up with what might with on the surface of the skin might be a little blotch becoming a furiously red and just intensely painful ear. So thats why its worth concentrating a bit more on the ears compared to the rest of the body. From the point of view of what you can actually do when you’re out and about, one thing is whether your dog swims or not.

Some dogs swim and they get soaking wet ears and they have no problem what-so-ever. Other dogs swim and because of the water that sits in their ears, and it gets warm, then they end up with quite serious ear issues. So for some dogs, it means no swimming, other dogs you don’t need to worry about it so much. You just see how your dog gets on with that. Another aspect of the ear, is the hairs in the ear.

Some dogs have extremely hairy ears and what the hairs do is trap in the hair and the warmth and the moisture and that means things like wax and yeast and bacteria can accumulate there and that makes everything much worse. So, for some dogs, removing the hair can be very helpful. That can be partly clipping away the hairs around and that also can mean plucking out the hairs one by one, a lot like plucking eyelashes one by one. You can do it and it doesn’t actually hurt them so much.

You have to be lead by what your dog will actually do and also talk to your vet and your dog groomer about doing that. And the other thing you can do with the ears is flush them out so you can get special flushes. This is one here, you get them for your vet. And what they do is they change the Ph of your dog’s ear. Bacteria and yeast, they thrive in a particular slight alkaline environment. So if you use this which is a weakly acidic type, ear flush, you’ll find that it reduces the multiplying of bacteria and yeasts and it keeps the ear then less likely to getting infected.

And you might do that once a day or you might do it twice a week, you might do it every two weeks. It depends on your dog. And again, you talk to your vet about what you do exactly. So, that’s skin, that’s the ears. The third thing is, the eyes. Compared to humans, dogs don’t suffer as much from hay fever type sign like streaming eyes and sneezing. If they do though, I tend to keep things very simple. I don’t tend to do things like eye flushs, you know with objects like little cups that you put in the eye a swirl around.

Dogs don’t take to that very well at all. Instead of that, keep it really simple, just use slightly salty water, a teaspoon of salt and a pint of boiled water. And when that’s just nice a warm, get a cotton ball and just use it to wipe your dog’s eye. Just wipe around your dog’s eye, you might do that twice a day just removing any discharge. Also you would be removing any allergens that are sort of resting around the eye. So that’s really all you need to do.

And sneezing aspect is really very rarely an issue for dogs. If a dog has a particular issue with sneezing in the summer months, I would look closely where you’re exercising them and perhaps exercise them in a different place. Maybe a localised area of pollen so whatever that upsets them. But like I said, it’s not generally a big problem. So thats it, theres loads more to allergies. It’s a very big subject and it’s often misunderstood so maybe that’s a subject we will revisit in the future.

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