Like humans, dogs can develop allergies to various substances, including flea bites, feathers, dust, airborne chemicals and mold spores. An allergen may be inhaled or the dog may absorb it through direct contact with his skin. Sensitivity to certain foods may also trigger an allergic reaction.
The most common allergic reaction is irritated and itchy skin and according to the "Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook," the dog must be exposed to a substance more than once before she will develop an allergy. The dog naturally scratches, licks or chews the itchy skin, often making the itch worse and possibly creating sores. Soaking the dog in cool water may alleviate the immediate itch if the dog is agreeable. Alternately, wetting a clean washcloth with cool water and gently squeezing it over the dog's irritated skin may offer some relief. Adding a handful of ground oatmeal to the dog's soaking water may ease some of the irritation and will provide a thin lubricant on the skin to keep it from drying out. Regular or quick-cooking oats may be used after grinding them to a fine powder in a blender or food processor.
Antihistamines, found in the pharmacy aisle of your grocery store, may be efficient in treating dog allergies. This medication counters the release of histamines, which are responsible for the itching and irritated skin. The "Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats," suggests a dosage of between 1 and 3 mg for every pound of dog weight, although your veterinarian can offer specific dosage advice. Fatty acid supplements may also relieve a dog's irritated skin but the dosage will depend upon your veterinarian's recommendation. Since getting most dogs to swallow a pill can be trying, a fatty acid supplement capsule can be broken open and the contents mixed with the dog's food.
When the allergen is removed from the dog's environment, his symptoms will decrease. This means keeping the dog indoors when airborne pollen is high, which is usually during early morning and evening hours. In addition, keep the dog's bed or crate spotlessly clean. Daily vacuuming will remove many allergens from carpeting and upholstery and weekly laundering the dog's bedding will help control dust mites.
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, 4th Edition, Debra M. Eldredge, DVM Liisa D. Carlson, DVM Delbert G. Carlson, DVM James M. Giffin, MD, Howell Book House Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2007
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats, by the Editors of Prevention Magazine, Amy Marder VDM, Bantam Books, 1997