Autumn (Fall) Allergies & Your Dog
In the spring dogs react to tree pollen. But in fall, ragweed is the most common culprit of hay fever. Molds that flourish in the warm, wet weather of autumn contribute to canine allergies and some dogs can react quite violently. Symptoms of hay fever include the same symptoms seen in people with allergies: sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy nose, and itchy watery eyes. You may observe your dog sneezing or pawing at his or her face, but other symptoms may appear as stains to the hair near the eyes or discharge from the nose. Allergies are annoying and in some cases debilitating, but most can be effectively managed with a little effort.
Visit Your Veterinarian
You cannot treat what you do not know about. Your dog cannot verbalize his or her symptoms, so it is important to observe changes in his or her behavior that may indicate allergies. Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose your pet from a physical examination or he or she may take skin scrapings or conduct an allergy panel study to identify specific items that trigger allergic reactions in your pet.
The Medical Treatments
Your veterinarian may recommend simple over-the-counter medicines to help your dog providing dosages appropriate for the size of your pet. The veterinarian may treat your dog him or herself, but the most severe cases may be referred to a veterinary specialist. Make sure to follow up on veterinary recommendations—even if the symptoms seem to subside.
Prescriptions for allergies can be oral, applied to the skin or injected. These can help ease the symptoms of allergies, but for long-term relief consider a preventive plan. This may involve shots that prevent allergic reactions to airborne allergens. Veterinarians start by injecting tiny amounts of specific antigens to help the body build an immune system that can stand up to the fall season’s malefactors.
Consistently Feed A High Quality Diet
The symptoms of food allergies and environmental allergies manifest in many of the same ways making it difficult to pinpont your dog’s triggers without expensive diagnostic testing. Rather than take the costly testing route many people experiment with diet instead. Not only are most allergic conditions caused by airborne particles not food, constant diet changes can actually hinder the success of veterinary diet trials. Instead choose a food prepared from “human-grade” ingredients and avoid “meals,” “by-products,” artificial colors and flavors, moistening agents (propylene glycol, carrageenan, etc.), added sugar, rendered fat, and other “feed-grade” components unless otherwise directed by your vet.
Limit Exposure To Allergens
Regardless of the season avoiding the things that trigger reactions is a common-sense way to avoid allergic reactions. Close windows and doors especially during the afternoon and keep your dog out of the “danger zones.” A pile of raked leaves or a freshly cut lawn could cause your dog to go into a major allergy attack. Try to keep your dog on sidewalks and paved areas during this season. Look for indoor activities to keep your dog active such as an obedience class, agility class or canine social hour. Do not forget about indoor triggers. When the thermometer dips people often pull out comforters and blankets that need a cleaning. Make sure to wash your dogs bedding as well. Dust and mite problems can worsen in the fall when people keep their windows closed. Make sure to air out your house daily. In general a clean house will help you and your pets fight allergies.
Exercise Early or Late In The Day
Your dog will still need exercise during allergy season, but you can time your outings to avoid the most active times for pollen to attack. Keep your pet inside between 9 AM and 5 PM—instead exercise your dog before you leave for work and when you come home at night. Dogs that live with active families should be closely monitored to keep them indoors at peak pollen times.
Wipe Down Your Dogs Paws before They Come Inside
Every time dogs step outside they are surrounded by countless potential allergens many of which end up accumulating in microscopic particles on their coat and paws. Those that suffer from seasonal and environmental allergies should have their paws wiped down with gentle moist pet wipes each time they come inside to minimize the chance of reactions.
Bathe Your Dog Frequently
We know that your dog cannot live in a bubble. Understand that he or she could carry pollens and other substances picked up during outings on their coats. You can remove the irritants with a quick bath and a good blow-dry. Make sure to thoroughly dry the coat to the skin to avoid mildew. Rinse your dog’s feet and wipe his or her face after an outdoor visit.