Karen Helton Rhodes, DVM, DACVD
Terri Bonenberger, DVM, DACVD
“ your dog’s dermatologists”
10 Big Allergy Mistakes: Dog Skin Care can often mirror our own healthcare!
Allergies can make your life miserable. The same is true for your dog. You experience a stuffy nose, runny eyes, itchy eyes, coughing, and asthma, as well as a myriad of other symptoms. Your dog suffers from itchy feet, itchy and waxy ears, anal itching, and secondary infections.
Sometimes, your pet can also experience a runny nose and “post-nasal drip”. This “post nasal drip” can sound like a dry hacking cough that can be quite alarming! People tend to absorb allergens via the respiratory tract (breathing the allergens) while dogs primarily absorb allergens through the skin. This might help explain some of the differences in our symptoms. In any event, dog skin care mirrors our own therapies and protocols. Let’s explore some smart ways to lessen or prevent your symptoms as well as your dog’s allergy flares.
10 MISTAKES WE ALL MAKE:
#1 We Ignore Pollen counts
Be aware of the pollen counts in your region. Try to avoid excessive exposure to the allergens you know that bother you or your dog. There are several good websites that can alert you to pollen counts and they are regionalized to be useful. Pollen.com will alert you when specific pollens spike and can give you a four-day allergy forecast for your zip code. They will also allow you to sign up for alerts via email. Being forewarned may help you be better prepared to plan your day.
#2 We Leave Windows Open
Keep windows closed and use the air-conditioner in warm weather. This will decease the pollen load in the home environment. Set the AC to re-circulate so it is not pulling in pollen-laden air from the outside. Using an air conditioner in your car can decrease the amount of pollen you breathe by as much as 30%. Unfortunately, this tip will not help the non-seasonal sufferer. House dust mites and molds thrive in the home. Changing air conditioning and heating system filters in the home can decrease pollen burden.
#3 We Exercise (dog walks) at the Wrong Time of Day
Avoid early morning or early afternoon walks. Grasses and trees start releasing pollen at sunrise, with levels peaking in the late morning and early afternoon. Evening or after-work walks are best. Of course, this is not always possible with our canine family members but it might be prudent to think about this when scheduling our walks or runs. Exercising when the pollen counts are lower can make a tremendous difference in our stamina. Otherwise, make the walks shorter and less strenuous.
#4 We Keep Clutter
Stuffed animals are major dust magnets. Children who suffer from asthma should avoid collecting large numbers of stuffed animals.
Dogs allergic to house dust mites will have the same benefit as children by removing clutter. Some physicians will advocate giving the stuffed animals to the household dog. This is only a good idea IF the dog is not allergic! Books and magazine can also attract dust mites. Make every attempt to keep your home clutter-free.
#5 We Love Down
Down comforters, down pillows, down couches, etc….they all contribute. It is not just the household bird that is the feather-allergy culprit. Feathers can be very allergenic and become more so with age!
Having a feather pillow for years with no issue and then suddenly noticing a feather allergy is not unusual. Synthetic pillow stuffing is a better idea for the allergic person or dog
#6 We Ignore Symptoms
We think our dog is only licking the paws to clean them or believe our dog is acting like a cat or it is simply an obsessive/compulsive behavior. Nope! You dog is probably allergic! You or your pet could have been allergy-free for years and now have a problem. Allergies get worse with time. Dogs grow into their allergy symptoms while some people tend to outgrow their allergies. People with frequent and seasonally recurrent sinus infections likely have allergies.
#7 We Sleep With Our Pets
Ok, I know this audience is going to ignore this tip. I certainly do! Physicians advise allergy patients to keep their bedroom as “allergen-free zones” and that includes the family pets. I suppose this is actually a good idea if you have a child or individual with severe allergies.
#8 We Have Lots of Rugs & Carpets
House dust mites love to hang out in carpet fibers.
#9 We Purchase Air Purifiers but Counteract Them
Room purifiers and air filters can help remove excess loads of allergens such as pollens, animal dander, and dust. Remember, that these units are only designed to filter one room-sized area. Don’t forget to close doors and windows in the room being filtered. The unit cannot filter your entire house of the outdoors!
#10 We Don’t Prevent Secondary Complications
Allergy patients, both dogs, and people, can be prone to secondary infections. Dogs will often experience frequent rashes caused by a bacterial folliculitis. The most frequent bacteria to colonize the skin is Staph. This bacteria can cause a red papular eruption or small red bumps that will become pustules, rupture and then form a crust. As the rash resolves, the skin will often pigment signally the end of the infection. This dark color is due to post-inflammatory pigment. Likewise, people with allergies are often more prone to acne flares.
Canine Skin Solutions was founded by two veterinary dermatologists to help the pet parent understand the complex issues regarding the health of their dog’s skin. Unleash your dog’s healthy skin!