Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Dog scratching a lot? Could be allergies.

Veterinarians say this is the time of year when they see a whole lot of dogs coming in for allergic reactions.

Dogs can’t mask up like we can, but if they had a choice, they might want to because pollen season is here.

“Dogs with pollen allergies, which are very common, tend to really struggle with this late summer, early fall season,” Dr. Rob Memmen said. Memmen is the co-owner of Gehrman Animal Hospital. He said he’s seeing a lot of itchy dogs coming in for treatment.

“Probably 70 to 80 percent of the patients we see are experiencing allergies to some degree,” he said. “Sometimes it’s so mild, people write it off to they like to clean their paws a lot — they groom a lot.”

That’s because dogs don’t manifest allergic reactions the same as we do.

“It’s just a matter of where those histamine releasing cells are concentrated so in people it’s our sinuses, in dogs it’s their skin, their paws, their ears, face, belly — it tends to manifest differently, but it’s the same issues people experience,” Memmen said. “So when I feel my allergies start to get bad in late summer, I know I’m going to get a lot of calls from patients.”

And it’s peak ragweed season in our area, which is one major culprit for pollen. is forecasting medium to high levels all week.

So how do we fix this?

“Unfortunately with these environmental allergens, they’re unavoidable. These allergens don’t come from animals coming in direct contact with the skin, it’s really more of them inhaling these pollens and their body reacts through their skin,” Memmen explained. “It’s very difficult to avoid all allergens for most dogs, so we’ll treat mild cases in similar ways we treat people.”

Ever hear of dogs being allowed to take over the counter antihistamines?

Yep, these work on them, too.

Prescription sprays to help reduce swelling and itching may be an option as well.

“If those aren’t effective, then we’ll use prescription-strength medications, or we have antibody therapies where we can give an injection of antibody to help neutralize those allergies,” Memmen said. “There are some cool treatments and it’s advanced quite a bit in 11 years I’ve been doing this because it’s such a common problem.”

Dr. Memmen said dogs who may have been fine during puppyhood may continue developing allergic reactions for the first one to three years of their lives.

So that pandemic puppy may have been fine last fall, but this year, might require a trip to the vet.

“One of the good things about us spending more time at home with our pets and families, you start to notice little things that you were a little too busy to catch in years past. It’s something we know we’re going to face especially during this time of year,” Memmen said. “The good thing is that veterinarians can help take care of this, so I encourage people to reach out to their vet.”

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