Dogs with Allergies
Every spring, as the weather changes, my dog begins to lick his feet. Occasionally he will scratch, but I have him on flea and heartworm prevention, and I don't find any flea dirt. By July or August, his feet look pretty bare. I treat the yard with fertilizers and insecticide, but keep him off for several hours as they recommend on the bag. Can I prevent this discomfort for him?
Dogs and cats can have allergies to the environment just like people do. Many people don't realize that a common cause of chronic ear problems can actually be food allergies. When allergy testing is done in animals, it is either a simple blood test or the same "scratch" method as they use in people. Common allergens are actually identified, such as pollens, molds, dust mites, or certain types of grasses and trees. These pets will have a pattern such as you describe of starting to be bothered at the same time every year, and will often have symptoms that will increase in severity each year. As much as they love to be out, their time should be limited, particularly when the grass is freshly cut, or when the pollen count is high. Other things that may be helpful are wiping their feet with a damp rag when they come in or even having your pet wear an infant or child-size white cotton t-shirt when they are itchy. The best course of action is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian before the season starts and discuss your concerns. Besides the simple management tools listed here, there are combinations of fatty acid capsules and over the counter medications that can provide great relief. If your dog's discomfort has become more advanced, your veterinarian may recommend the testing to pinpoint the problem. The costs of these procedures may seem daunting at first, but when most owners start to add up what they have spent in visits for sporadic injections or associated skin or ear problems, skin testing ends up being much cheaper in the long run. The bigger picture here is that when a dog is constantly scratching and licking, it is not only uncomfortable for them, but also irritating to whoever is sitting beside them on the couch or even in the same room! Make an appointment today with your veterinarian and work with him or her to develop a plan so that the family can have a fun and "itch-free" summer!