After a winter of El Nino and its resulting mold, spring has arrived with irritating pollens from trees, grass, and flowers causing many to sniffle, sneeze and rub itchy eyes. We are not the only ones to suffer and though our dogs may not show the same symptoms to allergies as we do, they also suffer. In dogs, pollens can cause excessive itching leading to hair loss and infections.  We have found that simply supplementing our dog’s daily diet with a food supplement containing marine and vegetable oils rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids has eliminated all itching and resulting hair loss. This supplement can be obtained from your vet, pet store or pet supply catalog in either liquid or capsule form. Aside from providing nutritional benefits they also have antihistamine effects and are very safe for your pet.

Another common allergy can be caused by the saliva of the flea. Symptoms are itching and loss of hair most usually apparent over the back and at the base of the tail. With today’s excellent topical solutions no one should have trouble ridding their dogs of flea infestation and eliminating them from their environment. We have two cats that were a source of fleas but with the application of a topical solution administered once a month we have no fleas and do not have to treat our dogs. Simultaneous spraying of the inside and outside environment should also eliminate the present fleas and aid in future flea infestation.

A less common cause of irritation to our pets are food allergies. Corn and wheat are common causes and are present in many pet foods. For seven years we have limited the intake of corn and wheat in conjunction with a supplement of fatty acids and have had no itching or skin problems. Without the addition of the fatty acid all of our Scotties have had excess itching during times of heavy pollination.

To treat infections resulting from scratching due to allergies, consult your veterinarian. It may be necessary to administer antibiotics. Steroids have been commonly used and while they have an anti-inflammatory effect at lower doses, higher doses of steroids can actually inhibit or suppress the immune system. Steroids may be effective for short-term treatment but they can have dangerous side effects. With longer therapy the development of Cushing’s disease, kidney and liver disease, and urinary tract infections can occur. Since allergies are generally for the life of the animal it is imperative that treatments other than steroids be used.

Antihistamines can also he used if diet supplementation and flea control is not effective. They are safer than steroids for long term treatment but animals do not consistently respond to antihistamine treatment. Different antihistamines often have to be tried until one is found that is effective. This should only be undertaken with the help of your veterinarian.

‘Tis the season!

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