It’s Scratch-and-Sniffle Season for Pets (and Humans) as Spring Allergies Hit the Ground | Entertainment/Life

I can already feel it between my eyes and on the bridge of my nose: spring allergies are showing up in some people – and maybe their pets too.

Allergies are one of the most common ailments affecting dogs this time of year. The constant itching, scratching, licking paws, chewing, rashes and chronic ear infections are showing up, and that’s just the beginning.

Treatment options vary depending on the cause of your pet’s specific allergies, and pinpointing the cause is half the battle. As the parent of an allergic dog – one on immunotherapy and who has his own dermatologist – what I’ve learned is that there are several types of allergies that affect pets, and our pets company may have multiple triggers.

In most situations, dog allergies show up in three ways:

1. SKIN: A dog itches and scratches; it may constantly chew and lick its paws or develop sores or skin lesions. Ear infections and yeast on the toenails are also signs of skin allergies.

2. RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: A dog coughs, sneezes, whistles and may have a runny nose or eyes.

3. DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: A dog may vomit or have diarrhea.

Here are some of the common causes:

POLLEN: The release of pollens into the air is no fun for anyone – human or canine. An allergic reaction to pollen can cause swelling and itching. A dog’s skin can become flaky and dry, which can lead to excessive scratching.

Feet are especially sensitive, and your dog may lick or chew on their feet to try to relieve the itching. Constant licking of the groin area, rubbing of the face, inflamed ears, recurring ear infections, recurring hot spots, and sometimes breathing problems including wheezing and coughing are all symptoms of this allergy .

If the dog has an allergic reaction to pollen, it is best to keep him indoors as much as possible to limit contact with the pollen. A bath with oatmeal shampoo can help soothe symptoms.

LICE OR FLEAS: As the weather warms up, the fleas are coming back with a vengeance. If a dog is allergic to fleas, a single bite can cause severe itching and swelling of the affected area. Dogs may scratch, lick, or chew the bites, often resulting in open sores and hair loss in that area.

Flea treatments will kill fleas; however, the home should also be treated, as these parasites can reside in the carpet and re-infect the dog on contact. Giving monthly flea prevention throughout the year is important in keeping pets flea free.

FOOD: Sometimes food is the cause of a dog’s allergies. Food allergy symptoms include itching of the face, feet, trunk, limbs, and anal regions, ear infections that are often yeast-related, and skin infections that may clear up with antibiotics but do reappear as soon as the antibiotic is finished.

In some cases, dogs with true food allergies may have more frequent bowel movements and loose stools.

CONTACT: This is a less common allergic reaction that occurs when an animal comes into contact with certain materials such as carpets, cleaners or plastic.

Symptoms of a contact allergy include itchy red bumps or blisters on the stomach, feet or muzzle and can lead to severe scratching and hair loss.

Over the years we have had several dogs at ARNO with contact allergies, and the shelter uses a special detergent for their bedding and sheets.

My allergic dog also had a pretty strong reaction to the carpet in our hotel when we were evacuated for Hurricane Ida, so I got to witness a contact allergy reaction first hand.

Allergies are miserable for people and pets. While people can voice the issues they have, sometimes it takes a little work to get to the root of a pet’s allergies. A trip to the vet is important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, as I know all too well.

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator of Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a volunteer-based nonprofit shelter. For topic suggestions, email [email protected] or for more information on ARNO, visit

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