In 2013 the Lady I rescued first started documenting my allergies on my blog. In the beginning my allergies were diagnosed as environmental allergens, but later that year when my treatments weren’t working, we found out my symptoms were a result of an allergic reaction to my food.
At the vet for allergies, again
Signs Your Dog Might Have Allergies
Symptoms as a result of allergies the Lady took me to the vet for:
- Constantly digging and scratching at ears
- Inside of ears red with discharge
- Fur around my eyes rubbed off
- Scabs under my chin from scratching
Other potential signs include:
- Discharge from eyes
- Red and/or swollen eyes
- Licking paws
- Red skin in areas like the tummy
- Rubbed bare spots in fur
If your dog has any of these symptoms, and they persist, allergies are likely the cause and a visit to the vet is necessary.
Common Causes of Dog Allergies
If you suspect your dog is allergic to something and it’s making them sick and uncomfortable, you should take your dog to see your veterinarian. He or she will have a hard time helping you though without some additional information.
First, your vet will want to know how long the symptoms have been present. Ideally, you will have tracked, or at least mentally noted, the frequency, duration, and severity. You will also want to make notes regarding exposure to known common allergens.
Things to Keep a Close Eye On
The times your pet goes outdoors and for how long were they out: allergies are caused by things from the outside environment such as pollen, grass, weeds, dust, molds or anything we can inhale or absorb through the skin.
Mealtimes and main ingredients of the food eaten: Allergies to specific ingredients in their food can also occur. Some of the most common food allergens are beef. Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck) and grains (including rice and potatoes), also corn, soy or wheat. Avoid any type of food meal also.
Items your pet comes in contact with in the home: Rugs, especially wool, furniture (is there a chemical treatment), dust, perfume or lotions.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Allergies
There are several options available for pet parents to treat their dog’s allergies in addition to the immunotherapy we tried first.
Natural Treatments for Dog Allergies
The most natural “treatment” is to avoid the allergen. That requires you knowing what is causing the allergic reaction though. Still, there are things you can try to see if they work if the symptoms aren’t too severe and you think you have time.
Suggested things to try include shampooing regularly to remove allergens from the skin and coat.
- Avoid cheap shampoos that contain sodium chloride (salt)
- Look for natural shampoos with soothing ingredients
- Try wipes or dry shampoos in between baths, give your dog a good wipe down when they return from the outdoors
Locally Made Honey
If it’s made within a certain area from where you live, to contain the correct allergens, it may provide some relief. We tried honey for me but I didn’t like it, so there was no way to get me to take it.
Figuring that out can take time. If you are looking for immediate relief for your pup, you may want to give them something that will help counteract the symptoms faster. There are two options: over-the-counter medications (OTC) or prescription medications from your vet.
Over-the-counter Medications for Allergy Relief
This is an OTC antihistamine that can temporarily treat sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy throat. It should be taken every 4 to 6 hours and can cause drowsiness.
Also an OTC, non-drowsy antihistamine that lasts for 24 hours of relief for sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itchy throat.
The Lady gave me both of these medications with no side effects and some relief from my symptoms. Consult your vet before giving these to your dog.
Prescription Medications That Can Provide Allergy Relief to Dogs
Sometimes natural treatments and OTC medications aren’t strong enough to provide allergy relief for your dog. If they don’t, it’s time to talk to your vet about prescription medication options, which can include:
Cortisone or Predisone can help calm your dog’s itching. Unfortunately, they can have significant side effects so you may have to move to one of the next options if the medication makes your dog sick. By the time I get to the vet for my allergies I have to get a Cortisone injection for immediate relief of itching. Some dogs do take steroids for a longer term when nothing else works for them, but because of the side effects it can be risky. It’s important for your dog to visit the vet regularly when taking them.
This is an injection given daily to your dog made up of allergens to build up an immunity in your dog. The allergens chosen are a result of a blood test taken to determine what your dog is allergic to. This was the first thing we tried for me but because of other complications we stopped.
Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) is a relatively new drug made by Zoetis. The medication, formulated to quickly stop scratching in dogs suffering from an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies called atopic dermatitis. It reportedly provides itch relief within four hours and effectively controls itching for 24 hours. Not available when I started my immunotherapy, the Lady contacted our vet after hearing about the potential success of the drug. When first released our vet couldn’t get enough supply for the demand in his practice, so the Lady continued treating me with OTC medications.
The shortage of Apoquel created a public relations crisis for the company. Zoetis declared the shortage was over in spring of 2016, when we first tried the drug for me. Now we no longer have difficulty obtaining it from our vet.
Apoquel is what works for me the best. The Lady I rescued tried to get by without it this year, as it is relatively expensive, but knows better now. Our vet instructed her to keep me on it until the ground is frozen. In mid-November I had my yearly checkup and the vet recommend staying on the drug as allergens are still present, even after a few frosts.
As a pet parent, you probably suffer from seasonal allergies yourself, or at least know others that do. So you understand how miserable allergies can be, which means that your dog is just as miserable. The Lady understands that I’m suffering. She feels that a prescription medication is a safe way to alleviate my suffering.