Itchin' for Spring Allergies: Environmental Allergies in Dogs
By Angela R., Vet Assistant
Spring is officially in full swing! Unfortunately, so is allergy season. Many of us start to get sniffly and have itchy eyes in the spring, due to one major thing – pollen. Pollen is a common allergen for our furry friends as well! Other common allergens include dust mites, mold spores, and insect proteins, such as flea saliva. So, how do I know if my dog has allergies?
What are the symptoms of allergies? When do they appear?
In dogs, the most common symptom of allergies is itchy skin. This can be localized or all over the body. Other symptoms include rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and anal gland problems.
Allergies are very common across dogs of all backgrounds and breeds, typically appearing after six months of age. Dogs with allergies to pollen and other seasonal allergens, such as ragweed and dust mites, will appear itchy during the spring and fall, just like people.
What is atopic dermatitis? How can I treat it?
Atopic dermatitis is a condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin – the human equivalent being eczema. Main allergens for atopic dermatitis are tree pollens, grass pollens, weed pollens, mold, and mildew. Dogs with atopic dermatitis typically rub their face, lick their feet and scratch at their underarms persistently.
Treatments for allergies include daily oral medications, such as Apoquel®, or longer-lasting injections, such as Cytopoint®. These treatments block chemical signals associated with itching, providing relief for your dog.
Allergy testing is another option to see what allergens affect your dog, either through HESKA blood testing or intradermal skin testing. Skin testing is primarily performed by a veterinary dermatologist. To complete the test, they will shave a patch of your dog's fur and inject a range of allergens into their skin. After about 20 minutes, their skin is examined to see which injections led to reactions.
For the HESKA blood test, we collect a blood sample of about 7ml from your pet and send it to a HESKA lab. Blood is collected because when your pet encounters something that they're allergic to, they make antibodies that are then present in their blood. The test measures the levels of allergy antibodies produced when the blood sample is mixed with a series of allergens, such as weeds, trees, yeasts, insects, and other potential factors.
After the HESKA test results are completed in up to 2 weeks, two effective treatment solutions can be created for your dog. These options include desensitization therapy shots or therapy drops that are formulated with the specific allergens. Desensitization helps minimize their allergy symptoms over time, which should make symptoms much easier to manage.
If you are noticing your dog exhibiting any signs of allergies, be sure to ask us about treatment and testing the next time you’re at Stream Valley! Or, call us at (703) 723-1017 to get them started on the path to relief.