Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

The yellow hazy days of Spring

by User Not Found | Apr 16, 2014

Just when you’ve finally stomped out the winter itch a giant cloud of yellow stretches across the southern states, causing sinus and nasal misery.  You feel like you stuck your head in a pile of leaves and breathed in deeply.  Coincidentally your dog starts itching and pawing right alongside you.  While most humans tend to experience sneezing and wheezing, dogs tend to itch and scratch!  Fun Fact: the demon yellow pollen is actually NOT a significant allergy trigger.  Like many pretty badass bugs, the microscopic pollen is the culprit for most allergies.  The visible accumulation of yellow signifies the season and visibly warns you of the presence of unseen irritating particles in the air. 

Our dogs, goldens especially, are like walking Velcro and ceremoniously escort whatever hasn’t blown in thru the windows into our sleeping, sitting, cooking and resting places.  And I don’t know about you, but the covering of this stuff does not inspire me to shovel, plow or even have a yellow pollen ball fight.  You should let this yellow cue help you get a jump on allergy season to keep you and your pet itch free.

The three most common types/categories of allergies are 

Food allergy

Contact or inhalation allergies (environmental allergies)

Flea allergy

But it’s never that easy!  Environmental and flea are the most likely culprits, but dogs can often have a combination of the above making it much more difficult to treat.  This is especially the case during certain times of the year if you are dealing with trying to find something that works!  It takes several weeks for allergens to completely clear from the body, so you have to make slow and slight changes.  For example, if you switch foods, you need at least a month to clear the old food and a sometimes two months on the new food to tell a difference.  Add environmental allergies in during that trial and it may take even longer or seem like it’s not working.  Far and away, allergies are the most frustrating medical ailment to deal with, but they aren’t going away. There is no cure.  So arm yourself with some options to stay on top of things and keep your dog comfortable and your nerves calm. 

Since we have several months to deal with allergies, including things like Ragweed in the fall, let’s talk about some tips for keeping everyone comfortable.  You can start by keeping baby wipes or grooming wipes near the back door.  Try wiping off your dog’s feet and coat when they come in to help reduce some of the dust they have collected.  This keeps irritants off their beds and carpeting and other areas they like to rest.  It also prevents them from inhaling allergens off their feet and fur when they groom themselves.  If you haven’t already, add Fish Oils to your dog’s diet.  These are great for skin issues and as an added bonus, they can help maintain joints and a healthy heart.  Brush, brush, brush!  Keeping their coat tangle free and pulling out extra hair will help to prevent “hot spots” and subsequent infection.  Consider bathing them more frequently.  A good hypoallergenic shampoo with soothing oils and herbs will help nurture the skin and the water will rinse off any pollen that may be stubbornly sticking to their hair.  A top secret (for super savvy pet owners) way to find great ways to help treat your pet’s itchies at home are found at your local health care store, like GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe.  Did you know these places have entire sections dedicated to pets now?  They usually have several varieties of itch relief sprays and foams that contain oils, like neem and tea tree, for flea allergies and hot spots, and soothing herbs like Aloe and Chamomile.  You can use sterile saline solution (found at the grocery store or local drug store) to rinse pollen out of their eyes if they have been outside.  Eye drops can lubricate their eyes if they are feeling itchy or dry.  Just make sure you use regular drops and not the ones made for contacts. 

Check your local pet stores.  There are so many shampoos, conditioners and lotions and potions for dogs now, they might as well have their own Bath and Body Works.  Read the labels and find one that suits your dog’s needs.  If you are still having itchy madhouse, talk to your vet about antihistamines (not just Benadryl).  There are other classes of anti-histamines, like Loratadine (Claritin) that only require once a day dosing and don’t cause super drowsy zombie dog.  New drugs are becoming available that have the ability to specifically block the itching and scratching pathways.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Throwing antibiotics and steroids at your dog all summer isn’t the answer.  Encourage your vet to have a discussion with you about other options.  And last but not least, keep them away from those sore spots!!!  More than half the battle is keeping our dogs from doing more damage with their toenails and their constant licking and rubbing.  Use old t-shirts, socks and other clothing items to keep them away from sensitive spots and when it’s necessary, the dreaded cone of shame.  I know they hate it, but your wallet will thank you.  So hang in there, be observant and do a rain dance….

Cheers!

Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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P.O. Box 37156 Raleigh • NC 27627 • Phone: 919-676-7144