Does your fur baby have allergies? For being such a big ole boy, at 95 lbs, my Hendrix The Hiking Dog sure does have sensitive skin. Have you ever wondered what is actually going on when allergies come into play?
The process is the same for humans and animals. When an allergic reaction happens, the body sees an otherwise harmless agent, as a threat, the same as it would say a bacteria. While the process of fighting a bacteria is positive, obviously it is a negative response when the body misreads an agent as a danger.
Dogs are like humans, in that they can have allergies for the same reasons that we do. Most of the time, a dog is allergic to something in the environment, not food, according to everything that I have learned and read. If a dog is allergic to something in food, it is most likely a protein. Discovering what food allergy a dog has is quite a process in that they are placed on a very strict and exclusive meal plan (no cheating) for an extended period of time. After the dog has had enough time to clear all possible allergens, items are reintroduced, one at a time. The dog is then monitored for signs and symptoms of a reaction. This is a process that is best worked through with the guidance of your vet.
It is said that food allergies usually present with recurrent ear infections. My Hendrix has never had an ear infection, so, at this time, under the direction of my vet, we are still on the path of environmental allergies. As the weather has turned significantly colder, Hendrix’s allergies have seemed to calm down quite a bit. This can also be an indicator towards environmental instead of food.
So, what do we do for environmental allergies?
There are actually several things we can do to help give our dogs some relief. Most of it is simply keeping things clean, including the dog.
Diligently keeping bedding clean, with as simple a detergent that you can find, goes a long way to relieving symptoms. Wash their crate contents, couch covers, car seat covers, dog coats, etc. And try to vacuum carpets and sweep floors as often as possible. Swiffer is my best friend, after Hendrix. All of this is an attempt to control hair and dander. It also helps remove any other environmental agent that may be the culprit.
Giving regular baths with anti-itch shampoos is a must. I use an oatmeal shampoo for most of Hendrix’s baths, as it is gentle and soothes the itching. I also give a bath right after our hikes and adventures. There are also medicated shampoos to try.
While I do try to stay away from as many medications myself, and for my animals, I do support scientific knowledge and believe there is a place for medications. As with any medication, for humans and animals, you will find content to support yay or ney. Making the decision to medicate is a decision you should educate yourself on, while working closely with your vet. There is also an option to have your dog tested, not unlike when humans get tested for specific allergies. This, again, is a conversation to have with your veterinarian.
While the internet is full of great information, choose your sources well. I used http://www.petmd.com/ for the majority of my research for this article. I also used my veterinarian’s opinion, my RN training, and my knowledge from working with and for vets.
Dealing with allergies can be a very frustrating and challenging situation. Be diligent and educated and… I am sure there is a support group out there somewhere!
Hello! My name is Rene’, and my favorite side kick is Hendrix The Hiking Dog! Hendrix and I are happiest when we are out on a trail, searching for that next great view, or interesting find. I love to share our adventures through words and pictures! Being an RN by profession, I also enjoy learning and sharing information about how to keep humans and canines safe on the trails. I have just completed my Wilderness Medicine for Medical Professionals, thru NOLS, and am very excited about what is to come with this new certification. You can read all about our adventures on our new (and perhaps still under construction) website www.HikingWithHendrix.com and if you Google “Hiking With Hendrix” you will find all of our social media channels. I look forward to interacting with each and every one of you!!!
Happy and safe adventure wishes to you!