by Nomi Berger
Has your dog suddenly started scratching herself or biting certain areas of her body? Chewing on her feet? Rubbing her face back and forth across the carpet?
If so, she may be suffering from seasonal allergies. These reactions to an obvious, but invisible, itch is her body’s way of responding to molecules called “allergens.”
The major culprits: trees, grasses, pollens, molds and ragweed. The main cause: inhaling these irritants through the nose and mouth.
Unlike humans, most dogs’ allergies manifest themselves as skin irritations or inflammations known as allergic dermatitis. Left untreated, your dog’s constant scratching can lead to open sores and scabs, hair loss and hot spots. Ear infections, running noses, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing may also occur.
To determine the source of your dog’s allergy, ask your vet to conduct a series of tests: intradermal, blood or both.
Once a specific allergen has been identified, you can try the following:
Avoidance: for pollens, keep your dog away from fields; keep lawns short; keep her indoors when pollen counts are high; vacuum and wash floors with non-toxic agents instead of regular household cleaners containing chemicals.
Topical therapies: frequent baths with an oatmeal-free shampoo; foot soaks to reduce tracking allergens into the house; topical solutions containing hydrocortisone to ease the itching.
Diet: one low in carbohydrates like grain, or low in fat; put omega-3 fatty acids and/or coconut oil in her food; add a combination of the naturopathic supplements quercetin, bromelain and papain to her meals.
Drugs: antihistamines, cyclosporine or steroids.
As always, consult your vet before starting any form of treatment. Monitor your dog’s behaviour closely and report any improvement or worsening in her condition.
It may take several attempts before the proper treatment is found. But when it is, your dog will be much more comfortable — and so will you.