Ask the Vet: How to Treat Dog Allergies
Spring is in the air…the flowers are blooming, the grass is turning bright green, and the trees are pollinating and pollinating and pollinating! Approximately two to three weeks before we see pollen on our cars and windows, our dogs have already experienced it on their bodies and in their stomachs.
So what are allergies? An allergy is a body’s reaction to foreign particles.
Dogs often show their allergies differently than humans. Even though many of them will have more eye discharge and sneezing, they will more commonly itch excessively and have bouts of nausea and diarrhea. Mast cells are responsible for causing histamine release, inflammation, and the typical defense mechanisms that result in allergies. For humans, the primary location of histamine release is in our sinuses. In dogs, it is more common in skin first, stomachs second, and ears and faces third. That is why they scratch themselves to the point of creating wounds or “hot spots,” and some dogs vomit almost daily this time of year. Most of us cannot tolerate our dogs being itchy or nauseous, so we look for treatment options.
Topical therapy includes washing, with or without shampoos. Just plain water goes a long way in removing pollen from the body surface. If you use shampoo, look for hypoallergenic choices to reduce drying their coats out. Oatmeal shampoos are common for helping to reduce pruritus (itching). A topical compound, pramoxine, is found in over the counter sprays and shampoos, and this acts like a mild local anesthetic to the skin. Consider oatmeal rinses in between the bathing. Aveeno is a commercial product you can find in the grocery store.
Oral products will likely need to be directed by a veterinarian. A good start however is diphenhydramine (Benadryl) at 1 mg. per pound of body weight no more than every eight hours. That means a 25 mg. tablet will take care of a 25 lb. puppy for at least eight hours. Chlorpheniramine is another over the counter antihistamine you could try. This product is typically only one size, 4 mg., and can be given to puppies safely at one tablet twice a day. Other antihistamines can also be used successfully but do contact your veterinarian before trying them on your own.
Note: The provided information is a general guideline. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for guidelines for your dog.