Dog allergies plague our furry friends every spring. Everyday care for dogs is often as simple as providing meals and refreshing water bowls throughout the day, particularly during the warm spring and hot summer months. In the rush of daily living, it’s easy to forget that your dog might have needs depending on the weather or time of year. After all, it’s not like they can sit you down and have a chat about their issues.
Seasonal dog allergies will drive you and your dog crazy
If you’ve had a dog for any length of time, you know the signs: itchy skin, recurrent ear allergies, even fits of sneezing can plague a dog, especially when winter leaves and spring begins. Here in Texas, we often have to contend with pollen storms in early spring when the warming weather is combined with sudden cold spells. These snaps tend to stimulate early pollen production. Right now, a lovely yellow-gold blankets the yard, including my car, porch glass tabletop, and steps, as tall pine trees shed their pollen and coat everything everywhere. Think “dust bowls of pollen.”
Many people suffer from common spring allergies, but dogs are susceptible, too. We shouldn’t be surprised that they can have a pollen allergy. It’s spring right now, and every day I watch one or two of my dogs dig their snouts into the ground to sniff branches, step on weeds, and push past bushes as they go about their daily outdoor exploration.
I’m sure their noses and coats pick up pollens. Right now, Max, my big boy, a Great Pyrenees, daily enters the house sniffing, snorting, and sneezing. Some breeds are even more susceptible to pollen allergies than others. Think Pugs, French Bulldogs, German Shepherds, even Golden Retrievers, etc. The point is pollen is numbered among the top allergies in dogs.
Common symptoms of dog allergies
Typical symptoms include runny noses, watery eyes, and itchy skin. Sneezing is a huge signal that a pollen allergy may be in the works. Sound familiar? Every spring, my Pug has a spot on his back that itches like crazy and drives him mad. If I let him, he will back up and rub that skin area against a chair nonstop. The result? Lost hair, broken skin, and redness. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s time to see whether your area has a high pollen count or whether those nasty, little flea beasties are on the rise, bringing on dog flea dermatitis.
Each spring, one or more of my dogs starts shaking his head or shying away from me when I reach out to pet his head or scratch behind his ears. This is often a sure sign of an ear infection. In response, I give a quick sniff to each ear because smelly ears equal inflamed ears. Reddened ears are another clue that your dog is suffering. If it’s a strong smell, run your dog to the vet as soon as possible. You want ear infections cleared as quickly as possible.
Two tell-tale dog allergy signs: Chewing and Paw-licking
If the sound of your dog’s nonstop chewing or licking, especially of the paws, is driving you nuts, stop and think about how your dog may be feeling. These two signs scream dog allergies. While pollen is considered one of the main culprits, mold and dust mites could also be a cause. It’s essential to check your dog’s paws regularly, so says the American Veterinary Medical Association. If you’re looking for a quick home remedy that will deter your dog from chewing and licking, give this homemade remedy a try.
Quick paw-licking dog allergy treatments
While this may only be a temporary remedy, you can apply a mix of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s paws. It can serve as a fast stop-gap measure and a way to prevent infection. Here’s the one big drawback: Let’s just say most dogs are not fond of the taste.
It’s probably better to make the mix half apple cider vinegar and half water, as plain apple cider vinegar is probably way too strong for your dog. Also, you must check your dog’s paws for scrapes or any open wounds like cuts. Do not apply any apple cider vinegar to open sores.
If your dog does have sore paws, you may want to give him an old-fashioned oatmeal soak. Oatmeal can help dogs, too, with its natural anti-inflammatory and moisturizer properties when the paws have cracked skin due to dryness.
Use plain, natural oatmeal, not the flavored kind or sweeteners, and stir two cups into a bucket of warm water large enough for your dog’s paws to be immersed and soak. Look for some relief within a few treatments.
Dog booties can help combat pollen allergies
Maybe you shy away from putting booties on your dog’s paws because you think it’s a silly fashion statement, but it can relieve dogs from excessive paw-licking. While they are not a cure, they can provide relief to a suffering dog. They deter paw-licking because the dog can’t get to the paw; however, booties also prevent pollen and other irritants from clinging to the paws. You can check out protector dog boots here.
Quick tips to help you combat allergies with dog pollen allergies
Let’s face it; spring is a wonderful time of year, one that immediately lures us to the outside world. Same for our dogs. Grab a clean cloth and give your pet a fast wipe-down to remove any pollen that may be clinging to his paws or coat. Consider using special oatmeal-based shampoos to soothe your pet’s irritated skin. If, like Charlie, your dog’s skin is getting red and raw and is a recurring problem, check with your vet to see if you might need to keep a bottle of Betagen Topical Spray on hand to help heal the skin from infection.
Yes, dogs can have sinus issues
This is the first year Max has had sinus issues, and the up and down spring weather seems to make things worse. He began having sneezing fits and a runny nose. Then he started staying outside at night. I eventually realized he was being drawn outside because of the cold night temperatures. In addition to an antibiotic, my vet gave me a bottle of saline solution and suggested I start nebulizer treatments.
Now, Max wasn’t all that hot on the idea. He continually turned his face away, bucked up from the floor, and walked off. It’s highly annoying when your 110 lb. dog decides to hide under the dining room table.
I had to do something. I turned to Mr. Google and immediately found a few videos demonstrating dogs getting nebulizer treatments. Armed with new knowledge, Max and I had a sit-down, and I decided it was time to begin mask training. I won’t lie. Max wasn’t in total agreement, at least at first, but after a few days, he finally came round. Now, after an outdoor exploration, if he comes in and starts sneezing, he comes right up and lets me know he wants treatment. Why the change?
He loves treats, and in particular, he likes the Bacon Pet Botanics Training Reward. I like them because they are small bits and pack a punch of flavor, plus the bag comes with 500 treats.
How I trained Max to accept the nebulizer mask
Armed with the evidence from Mr. Google, I returned to the problem at hand. It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be given his nonstop head-turning response to the sight of the small portable nebulizer. First, I needed him to get used to the nebulizer mist. I grabbed the treat bag and had Max sit in front of me with the nebulizer on the table, adjusting it to an appropriate height. I left the mask off but turned the nebulizer on, positioning the mist, so his nose was within its range.
Using the treats, I moved the nebulizer closer to his snout to allow the mist to flow on and around his nose. I would use a single treat to lure him back to the mist. He quickly got the idea, so I then moved on to adding the mask. This took a little longer, but as he gradually let the mask get closer, I began to lead his nose into the mask and would slowly count 1-2-3. He had to keep his nose in the mask for the total count to get the treat, usually two treats. Then we’d do it again.
It took about two days for him to accept the nebulizer treatment fully, and then he began to willingly leave his nose in the mask to get the treat. Often he now goes to the count of four. We’ll gradually extend the time, but it’s been enough for the nebulizer to work.