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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ah-pooch! Dog Allergies

“Lup, lup, lup.” Says Casey’s tongue underneath the dining room table as he licks his paws.
“Waaoof, waaoof.” Says Steeler’s deep voice to Casey thinking that Casey has just picked up a delectable delight which has fallen to the floor from Peter’s side of the table and undoubtedly Steeler would like a piece too!


Poor Casey, AKA the Best Damn Golden Retriever In The World (BDGRITW).His tongue cannot stop licking his paws due to the allergies that plague him. His feet sometimes turn a rust color from the saliva that does damage to the fur, and not to mention the poor guy usually has a bunch of hair sticking off his tongue! The occasional bald spots on his feet are not very attractive either! But even with all that, he is still the BDGRITW!

It’s that time of year folks! Just when you thought it was over when your furnace first fired up in the fall and blew that cloud of dust from the registers creating the ultimate allergen in dogs.  Alas, it is now seasonal allergy time!  Grass, pollen, and flowers, oh my!  Unlike people who sniffle and sneeze, allergies in dogs generally manifest in overall skin problems and ear infections.

When you notice your dog licking its paws, rubbing its face along the ground, the discolored red feet, and the constant scratching with the absence of noticeable fleas, the first  thing that should come to mind is an allergy.

While airborne allergies can cause a problem, food allergies can be another nightmare. Food allergies can manifest in an actual rash along the belly and inner thighs, along with or without the licking of paws and continuous scratching.

If you have changed the dog’s food to lesser than normal quality you may see an allergy outbreak in the household. Recently due to job changes my brood had to eat some lesser quality dog food that contained more grains than meat and ‘OH MY GOD WHAT A NIGHTMARE IT WAS!’  In the long run it was not worth going that route to save money.

 I would rather give up a month’s worth of my medication than to put my poor babies through that again. I realized this the day I had to shave Steeler’s back due to a flakey skin problem which he had never had before, that it was time to bite the bullet and get them all back on their normal food. Needless to say, every Newf in this house will have to undergo the horrible all day event of mother wielding the razor and risk looking like a breed of dog that no one is really sure what they are!  But shaving is the only way to get down to the Newfoundland’s skin to bathe off the flakes and crustiness. Well, let me rephrase that just a bit, it is the only way to get to the skin unless you are a professional groomer. I however only play a professional groomer on TV!
  In real life, to get to a Newfie’s skin you have to part the hair as you wash and then rinse well, neither of which I seem capable of doing!

Flea allergies make you want to vomit and pull your hair out because they can really wreak havoc on a dog. It takes only one bite from a flea to cause a huge reaction. Dogs will chew themselves right to the bone with a flea allergy if you don’t watch them.

Is your dog on a flea preventive?  Yes?  Bet you think you're safe don’t you? Well let me be the bearer of bad news and if you’d like you can try to reach through the computer and smack me for this wealth of information!  Even though your dog is on a flea preventative like Frontline, the dog is not safe. Why? Because the dog is actually allergic to the flea’s saliva! One little bite and the damage is done! Even if the damn flea goes to flea heaven two seconds later! 

If your pooch should suffer a flea allergy I highly suggest you invest in an Elizabethan collar (cone collar) and lots of antibacterial soap and antibacterial ointment. Be sure the ointment does not contain Zinc oxide as if ingested can be toxic to dogs.  The collar of course is to keep the dog from biting the area further and the rest is to keep the already chewed area bacteria free so it can heal. In some cases you may need oral antibiotics from the vet.     

What to do, what to do?

Allergies suck, there’s no way around it. They suck for people and they suck for Fido.
Just as there are allergy doctors for people, there are also allergy doctors for dogs. They can give your dog a skin test to see what causes the allergies and provide you with shots, but these are expensive and most people just can’t afford it.

On the laymen’s side you can give Benadryl to help with the itchiness but be sure it is Benadryl Allergy and not the allergy/ sinus.  Dosing and precautions here
 However it may not curtail scratching 100%.

If it is food allergies change the food to a better quality. There are also companies that make dog food specifically for dogs who have food allergies. Chicken, lamb, beef and grains can all cause continuous allergic reactions. These allergy specialty foods usually consist of Duck, Venison, and sweet potato. Royal Canin and Eagle pack are two well known makers of foods for dogs with allergies, but there are many up and coming companies that are starting to compete so check them out as well.  Don’t expect to see a change overnight, it can take months before you see a difference in the dog. I am going on month 6 here and just recently seeing a change in the skin and scratching.

Airborne allergies are a bit tougher as almost every home has dust (or dust mites) and of course you can’t control Mother Nature! But some things that may help are:

1) Keeping your dog’s outings limited to going out for potty only.
2) Once the dog has gone out, before coming back inside, wipe the dog down with a damp towel to remove any pollen or other particles off the dog’s fur. Don’t forget the feet and in between the pads where these particles get caught.
3) Keep an air purifier in the room where you dog normally stays in as this can help eliminate particles and dust in the area.
4) Add omega fatty acids to the dog’s food daily.  Derm Caps  here 
Fish oil gel tabs are also good. But get the 3 6 9 fish oil gel tabs if you can afford them. Puritans pride usually has good sales.

And lastly, if the dog is breaking out in sores, bad rashes, or  there is an odor then see your vet for a skin scraping as it could be due to yeast, fungus, or bacteria and these all need specific treatment.

Thoughts I ponder over:
I wonder why if they can make masks for people so they don’t inhale impurities such as fumes, then why can’t they make a mask for your dog just for short outings to keep particles from going up the nose and mouth.  Hmmm, maybe I should patent that!

Until next time, put yer Haz-Mat suit on and have fun!


  1. Great article, Sally!

  2. Thanks Lisa! It's hard to explain flea allergies to people who have their pets on a flea preventative.