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Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Ask Amy Videos, Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 29 comments

Spring is the SNEEZE season for humans, complete with runny eyes and sinus issues.(Learn about dealing with pet allergies here).  For dog allergies, itchy skin is the more common sign of discomfort. And it can hit in the fall, too. Just ask my Bravo-Dawg, now trying to balance with only three legs to scratch his itchies.

Bravo (and the other furries) get monthly parasite preventive meds, so it surprised us when he began incessantly scratching and chewing last week. We live on 13 acres, and we speculated the long grass in the field led to irritations and bug bites. But even after mowing, his itchiness continued with head and back scabs, and foot licking. Benadryl helped, but after Bravo’s cancer journey and chemo treatments, we wanted to be careful with giving him anything.

Yesterday, the vet diagnosed allergies–as if Bravo didn’t have enough challenges! Dr. Clay noted he’s at the age when allergies can develop (about 1 in 3 dogs suffer). He also noted that Benadryl is one of the safest and effective meds, and recommended we up the dose (dogs get a much higher dose than people). He weighs 101 lbs, so Bravo gets up to 100 mgs three times a day–and the itch has abated. But what about other kinds of allergies?

dog allergies

dog allergies

I’ve been told by some veterinarians that West Highland White Terriers “put their kids through college…” because of the allergy issues the breed is prone to. Image Copr. Amy Shojai

It’s less common, but runny eyes also may develop–and of course, my Magical-Dawg had to be one of these unusual cases. His eyes began watering back in January, and combined with his acral lick foot itchies, he was miserable. Thankfully, he didn’t suffer from the all-over itchy skin, hair loss, and worse that our first shepherd suffered. But here in North Texas (and other parts of the country), it’s helpful to understand dog allergies and how to soothe our itchy dogs.

This is simply an overview of the kinds of allergies. For more details, you’ll want your veterinarian to diagnose your dog, and explain what’s needed to help your pet. You can also find more details about pet allergies in my DOG FACTS book.

DOG ALLERGIES CAUSES & CURES

Pets suffer from the same kinds of allergies that people do. Food allergies (probably the least common in dogs) happen when dogs react to certain proteins in the food. Major culprits are meats like beef or chicken–and even lamb, if the dog has eaten it before and become “sensitized.” It can be complicated.

Food Allergies

How do you cure dog food allergies? Well, you don’t…but you can manage them. The first step is diagnosing exactly WHAT causes the reaction and only a veterinarian can do that. See, commercial foods contain a smorgasbord of ingredients, some in tiny amounts, and while you MAY find one your dog tolerates more than others, switching around can be hit-or-miss. It also may confuse things when you’ve then exposed the dog to bunches more potential culprits and reduced the “safe” alternatives that he’s never before tasted.

Flea Allergies

Flea allergy is the most common of all. Dogs (and cats) sensitive to the flea saliva can itch all over after a single bite from one of these tiny vampires. Flea allergy also is one of the most easily managed, usually through one of the modern safe flea prevention products. I use Revolution (from the vet) on Magical-Dawg because it takes care of heartworms, fleas and a number of internal parasites, too.

dog allergies

Fleas are more than itchy aggravations and spread tapeworms as well as cause skin disease.

Inhaled Allergies

Atopy–or inhaled allergies–can be due to pollens, molds, and even dander. Hay fever in people that makes us sneeze instead causes itching in pets. That’s what our first shepherd developed. After we moved from the Ohio Valley region (and its airborne fungus and other “schtuff”) and were in Texas, his health drastically improved. Dogs with inhalent allergies often have itchy ears, too, and may develop ear infections.

Could a dog be allergic to himself, or to the cat? Theoretically, that’s possible! But more typically it’s the springtime/summer allergens that drive pets nuts. Wintertime when the furnace comes on for the first time can stir up household dust and set them off again.

Atopy can be the toughest control. It’s seasonal so the signs can lessen during the winter. Dogs absorb grass and dust allergens through the toe webbing in their foot pads, so simply rinsing off poochie feet after the dog’s been outside can help enormously. Also, dogs (and cats) are furry dust mops that collect and carry allergens in their coat–so rinsing ’em off weekly also helps.

Get all the dog allergy facts!

Natural Cures for Dog Allergies

There’s a difference between HOLISTIC veterinary medicine and HOMEOPATHY (click this link for some details). For example, omega-3 fatty acids are a holistic/natural treatment that aid skin health and also have some anti-itch properties–so does bathing the pet in an oatmeal-based anti-itch shampoo. A flea comb to get rid of fleas is about as natural as you can get! Homeopathic medications attempt to “wake up” the pet’s own body to deal with and manage the health challenge.

Some dogs benefit from allergy medications like antihistamines. Magic’s runny eyes resolved once we began giving him Benadryl, recommended by our veterinarian. Please check with your pet’s practitioner for proper dosage and what’s safe for your fur kids. And for atopic dogs, simply rinsing them off with water (even just their paws) can help.

Here are some videos that offer some more comments and discussion (yes, they’re a couple year’s old!). There’s also info on OTC treatments for pets. For folks reading the blog, what has worked for your itchy dog? Any further tips you can share? Do tell!

 

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29 Comments

  1. fashionbeyondforty

    Great article! It is good to inform people that animals get allergies just like humans do!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Yes, I never had allergies before I moved to Texas. Interesting that my first dog had awful allergies that went away once we moved to Texas…go figure!

      Reply
  2. Nichole

    It’s definitely sneeze season! We’ve had several dogs with several different allergies… seem so common these days.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Yep, very common. My first dog I know developed them in part due to over-vaccination. I didn’t know any better 🙁

      Reply
  3. Tenacious Little Terrier

    Mr. N has a flea allergy so he stays on medication year-round. We live in a mild climate too so there’s always bugs!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      I believe that CAPC recommends year-round prevention, too. Our climate in Texas means bugs all the time.

      Reply
  4. Jana Rade

    With allergies, we had some good results with integrative approach. We were considering immunotherapy also but it didn’t come to that because of Jasmine’s other problems and passing. Else we would have tried that.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      My husband went through immunotherapy and it helped (but didn’t cure) his issues.

      Reply
  5. Kamira Gayle

    Wow I had no idea itching could be triggered by food allergies. I knew about fleas, but wasn’t aware about allergens being the culprit. Good info. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Yep, food allergies can cause itchies. Sensitivities more typically result in gastrointestinal issues, I believe. And then there are dogs who don’t read the vet manuals. *s*

      Reply
  6. Talent Hounds

    Thanks for sharing this great information. Kilo the Pug snuffles at the best of times so I hope he does not get allergies. So far so good. I need to schedule a vet trip you have reminded me as hate fleas, heartworm, and ticks.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      My Karma-Kat is due a vet check this month, too. Need to schedule that.

      Reply
  7. Kitty Cat Chronicles

    One of my cats Kylo Ren had a bad flea allergy, and if he even gets one flea he gets these scabby itchy places on his skin. Poor guy. I have to be very diligent about combing him for fleas and treating him regularly. It’s that time of year!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Oh yes–milliary dermatitis? Feels like hard millet seeds on the skin, very typical of kitties with flea bite sensitivities. Poor guy, indeed.

      Reply
  8. Marjorie Dawson

    I can confirm cats get allergies! Our Dot and Sienna cats both have flea allergies (not just getting a flea and scratching – full blown allergies with scabs and stuff). So it is vital people do realise a cat or dog does indeed get a reaction to somethings,

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      AWww, so sorry, that’s miserable for the kitties.

      Reply
  9. Sarcastic Dog

    I know it’s allergy season because not only did all of my allergy symptoms kick in this week but Piper’s eyes started getting watery, which generally indicates that something is in the air. She doesn’t get itchy but her eyes definitely react when the pollen starts flying. I haven’t tried Benedryl with her but if it gets bad enough this year, I will give the vet a call.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Yep, some dogs don’t read the book and develop “other” signs of the problems. Interestingly, Magic’s watery eyes started well before spring–back during the winter, when I think it had to do with dust in the furnace maybe?

      Reply
  10. Golden Daily Scoop

    I just noticed this weekend that the dogs eyes are a bit runny and I’m guessing this is from seasonal allergies. Usually this only last a few weeks, paws crossed! Miley had fleas a few years back and turns out she is allergic to them, poor thing was a mess!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      With Magic, it helped him enormously just to bathe his eyes and face with a warm wet cloth a couple of times a day. Cleaning off the gook helped prevent the skin irritation.

      Reply
  11. Carol Bryant

    What a timely post with the season of itch and scratch upon us. I find a lot of folks confuse allergies with sensitivities. I love that you pointed out what to do and are hands on helping pet parents.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks, Carol. I’m getting lots of “prompts” for topics from my fur-kids…would prefer some POSITIVE prompts, LOL!

      Reply
  12. Sonja

    hardest part is finding a way to deal with allergies and all the flea and tick stuff without all the chemicals. ugh. I am not a fan of pharma.

    Reply
  13. fullyfeline (@fullyfeline)

    My dogs tend toward environmental allergies. Seems to be worse this year. The weather has been so weird everything has started blooming earlier. I’ve been wiping their paws when we come in from walking. That helps.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Glad that the paw wiping helps.

      Reply
  14. Sweet Purrfections

    The vet thinks Brulee has seasonal allergies, especially in the fall and spring. It’s the same time my allergies tend to kick in.

    Reply
  15. Robin

    I think that the dog I had as a child had a flea allergy. She would bite all of the fur off of her rear end any time she got fleas. It is great that there are so many better ways to deal with fleas these days. My kitties have never had to deal with fleas, so I (very thankfully) can’t say whether or not they have these allergies.

    Reply
  16. Lola The Rescued Cat

    Thanks for such a great post. My niece’s dog suffers from allergies and I’m going to share this information with her. I’m going to suggest she look at the food she’s feeding him and start there.

    Reply
  17. Cathy Armato

    There are so many types of allergies to try to identify and manage! It can take time to figure them out.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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