The vet’s office: Feeling the itch
Fall is prime time for pet allergies
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Many of us are dealing with itchy eyes, a runny nose, and maybe an unwanted cough or sneeze as the pollen counts rise at the end of summer. Add to that the molds and mildews of a wet fall, and we have the perfect environment for late-season allergies.
Many pets are also affected by these tiny offenders. Their immune systems are receiving the message, and the histamines are released in response. In contrast to humans, most pets’ symptoms tend to be manifested in skin changes, ear infections, and itchy feet as respiratory symptoms are less common. One day recently I examined four dogs with itchy, yeasty ears and one with a cough, likely an allergic bronchitis. Yes, dogs that swim and get water in their ears could have ear health issues at any time of the summer, but this is now almost an allergy epidemic with the numbers of allergy-related cases seen daily.
Unlike many people who have lost their allergies of childhood, dog allergies tend to amplify with age. Symptoms often start earlier, last longer, and become more severe. The histamines released by certain allergy-responsive cells in the body target the skin, creating itching, hair loss, increased body oil production, and increased bacterial skin populations. Some dogs come to have advanced skin disease and require multiple medications and medicated shampoos to treat the symptoms. Others will present with severe ear yeast or bacterial infections as the ear canal becomes a greenhouse for infection in response to allergies.
Sadly, we have to tell clients that allergies are forever and will appear each year, with some almost on the same day. Owners are educated to anticipate this arrival and begin management protocols to lessen the severe effects of allergies on the pet. Your veterinarian will offer you options depending on the severity of your pet’s allergic response history.
For some, allergy testing may give information on highly reactive exposures and identify key allergens. Virtually all pets and people will have a strong response to ragweed pollen. Now add together multiple other allergens, sometimes even foods, and a threshold is reached above which symptoms present.
Excessive hair loss, foot chewing, itchy ears, or a hacky cough may be the first symptoms of late season allergies. Call your veterinarian for an appointment, and together we can help your pet to be more comfortable and have an itch-free fall season.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.