An Allergy Experiment

It’s allergy season.  It feels like most of the patients I’ve seen over the last two days have been in because they have varying degrees of itch.  The trees are pollinating right now, if you’re interested. 

In a month or so, when you notice me with a red, runny nose and you might catch me driving with kleenex stuffed up my nostrils to staunch the flow. This is when the grass pollen starts up.  Kills me every time.  This spring will be interesting because they reformulated my allergy shots to focus more on the grass.

Anyhow, I’ve got a theory that I’m going to test this year. 

As you may already know, I’m allergic to just about everything (including pets). One thing I know is that if I’m in the middle of a raging allergy attack, it’s pretty unlikely that an antihistamine alone will take care of the problem.

There’s just too much histamine raging through my veins causing my nose to run, eyes to itch, throat to hurt, etc. 

However, I know that if I’m proactive and start taking the antihistamine at the very beginning of symptoms, before it becomes a full-blown allergy attack, they seem more effective. 

Of course there are still times that I’ve got the kleenex-up-the-nose and need steroids, antibiotics and a doctor trip to help, but it’s maybe once a year.  I also take allergy shots which help immensely. 

Anyhow, my experiment involves you, the pet owning public (and hopefully AMCOP client) with the allergic dog.  

I’d like you to try not to wait til the dog is in the middle of a horrible allergy attack that has resulted in a bald, smelly, scabby, crusty, miserable dog with a need for antibiotics, steroids, and medical intervention (and a resultant hefty vet bill). 

Dogs with pollen allergies do things like:  lick or chew their feet, scratch at armpits, groin, lick or chew groin area, flanks, perineal area, shake their heads, rub their faces on the carpet, couch, etc., lick or chew their forearms, legs, etc. 

As soon as you  notice an increase in this itchy behavior: break out the antihistamines.  Give them consistently as directed (depends on which one, call your vet to get the proper drug and dosage recommendation for your pet). 

The goal is to try to control the symptoms before they get out of control and you have a nightmare on your hands. 

Mia, my lab is the first dog I’ve had with true seasonal allergies.  I’m experimenting with her on this matter.  It’s easier said than done.  She’s itchy, but so far I can control it by giving her more frequent baths. This is another cheap and easy way to control allergies, wash off the offending pollen.  With a good shampoo, you can safely bathe your pet once or twice a week. 

In between baths, you can wipe the dog down once a day with unscented baby wipes to remove a layer of pollen.  This reduces the amount that they bring inside, leave on their favorite sleeping area and subsequently react to by itching. 

So back to Mia, so far I’m managing her itchy ears with intermittent ear cleaning, and itchy skin with baths and occasional Claritin that she shares with the kids. 

So join me, oh general public in my attempt at early intervention for atopic dermatitis in pets. 

Let me know if it works!


2 thoughts on “An Allergy Experiment

  1. You mentioned you could bathe your pet once or twice a week with a good shampoo. What type of shampoo do you suggest?

    Thanks – Kristen

    1. In the clinic we use Vet Solutions Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo for general cleaning. As a rule, talk to your vet about perscription shampoos (I use certain ones for certain skin types, flaky vs oily, infected or not, etc). As far as OTC shampoos are concerned, I generally go for the mild, not highly scented ones. Definitely not the cheap stuff either. Someone once told me to use a “soap free” formula. The main thing is that it’s gentle and not irritating. NO HUMAN SHAMPOOS…especially baby shampoo! It will make them irritated and itchy.

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