In spite of the cold, drizzly weather that has afflicted us in the Northeast, allergy season is settling in, so get ready for the sneezing, itching, and scratching. Not just you, your dog too! Dogs commonly experience seasonal allergies, usually through dermatitis. Instead of sneezing and getting itchy, watery eyes, most dogs have allergic reactions on their skin.
Symptoms of allergic dermatitis include excessive scratching, licking and chewing of paws. Some dogs do get watery eyes too. Excessive scratching can be harmful, in that areas of raw skin are vulnerable to infection and parasites. Dermatitis can be relieved by using a moisturizing shampoo that's made for allergic dogs; allergy itch relief sprays and creams can also be helpful. If the raw spots don't heal quickly be sure to consult your veterinarian.
In addition to common allergens like pollen, fleas are one of the leading causes of dermatitis in dogs. Make sure that your pup is up to date on his/her flea and tick protection. Collars are not much help - use a liquid medication that you apply once monthly to the dog's skin on the back of his/her neck. Frontline Plus, Advantage, and Program are good ones. Read the package to make sure the medication kills fleas, ticks, AND THEIR EGGS. If the latter are not killed they can drop off into your carpets or furniture causing an infestation in your home.
It's also a good idea to make sure your pet is getting proper nutrition to keep his/her coat and skin and immune system healthy enough to resist irritants. The use of vitamins and supplements can help maintain a healthy coat, but the first step is to feed a high quality food that's produced with human grade ingredients and manufactured in small batches. That means no supermarket foods!!! Companies like Iams and Eukanuba have been bought up by huge conglomerates and are no longer premium foods. Go to a health-oriented pet store (not a large chain like PetCo) and get a food that specifies human grade ingredients and lists Omega 3 and 6 among the first 8 ingredients. If you want a healthy pet you need to read labels carefully, just as you should for your human family!
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