5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Allergy-Free this Spring

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PetMD Editorial
Published: June 05, 2014

The spring season brings with it many allergens that affect both us and our pets. This is because most plants thrive during the spring.

Here, according to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, is how you can treat your dog’s allergies this spring.

1. Go to Your Veterinarian

Since there are so many conditions that can appear clinically similar to allergies, having your veterinarian examine your dog is an important first step. Diagnostics, including skin impression smear and scraping, and blood testing may be needed to determine the nature of the condition and the most appropriate treatments.

2. Bathing and Topical Treatments

Cleaning your dog’s skin surface and hair coat using a pet-appropriate shampoo helps remove environmental allergens, bacteria, oil, and other irritating substances. Full-body bathing or localized cleansing can be performed as much as twice daily depending on your pet’s needs. Besides shampooing, a leave-on-conditioner or veterinary-prescribed topical treatment can help to manage your dog’s general or localized skin irritation and infection.

3. Eye Rinses

Applying a few drops of eye irrigating solution, just like that which you would use in your own eyes and can purchase from a human pharmacy, is one of the simplest means of removing allergens from your dog’s eyes. Doing so every morning, afternoon, and evening for 24 to 48 hours can help lend perspective on whether your dog's problem is simply mild environmental inflammation or merits evaluation by your veterinarian. Use cleansing eye drops only. Do not use eye drops with vasoconstrictors, which are usually labeled to “get the red out.” Eye drops or eye ointment containing an antibiotic, steroid, or other drugs may be needed in certain situations, but only under your veterinarian’s supervision.

4. Ear Cleaning

Allergens, broken hairs, microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, mites, etc.), and other substances can all get stuck in your dog’s ear canals. Gently irrigating (flushing) the ear canals with a pet-appropriate ear cleaning solution removes these offensive materials and modifies the pH and microenvironment of the ear canal to deter microorganism growth. Additionally, plucking the hair from the ear canal and inner flap prevents accumulation of environmental allergens that can irritate the ear canal and promote the growth of microorganisms.

If your dog is a swimmer, sprinkler-diver, or is frequently bathed, then irrigating the ears post-watery activity can help ensure that moisture doesn’t linger in the canals. When drying your dog’s ears, only use cotton balls as q-tips they can damage the ear drums. Have your veterinarian show you the proper method for cleaning your pet’s ears.

5. Change in Diet

Food allergies in dogs may not be as common as you think, but it’s still important that you consult with a veterinarian in order to rule it out as a possibility. The best way to do this is to initiate a food elimination trial. Novel proteins and carbohydrates (those your dog has not previously consumed) should be chosen and vigilance must be employed to prevent your dog from consuming other food sources (non-approved human foods and pet treats, etc.) that could negatively impact the trial by causing an allergic flare up. Your veterinarian may also recommend a therapeutic dog food for your pet in order to accurately identify food allergies and perhaps even relieve some of the allergic symptoms.

Click here to read more from Dr. Patrick Mahaney


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