By Katy Cable/A 5 min. Read
I’m interrupting my intended scheduled blog to bring you what seems to be much more necessary. This season’s “Super Bloom” in SoCal, has left many dog owners in TEARS! -Literally! The great outdoors has been anything but for allergy sufferers.
All week long I’ve had weepy-eyed, runny-nosed pet parents coming to me in desperation. Their poor dogs are relentlessly itching, chewing their paws and covered in rashes and hot spots. If the allergies weren’t bad enough, the vet bills and products have set them back hundreds of dollars.
Good news! Take a deep breath and read on. As someone who has suffered from severe allergies all my life and also worked with highly sensitive dogs, these tried and true remedies will get both you and your dog feeling brighter than a spring day in no time.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MY DOG...
When a dog constantly licks and chews certain spots on their body, it eventually becomes red, raw, inflamed and ITCHY! The area never gets a chance to heal because the dog won't leave it alone. At this point it’s easy to develop a bacterial or fungal infection which are also extremely itchy. The secondary condition then makes the itch much worse exacerbating the itch-lick cycle.
If yourdog is suffering from any sort of skin infection, they should be evaluated immediately by your vet. Typically it’s an allergy to a flea bite, food or something in the environment. But, it’s quite possible they have skin mites or have developed a fungal or bacterial infection that requires prompt attention. It may also be the result of compulsively licking and biting their skin to relive stress and anxiety.
GET RID OF HOT SPOTS...
Regardless of the cause, start building up your dog’s immune system with a nutritious diet. GET RID OF THOSE BAD CARBS! I would switch to a wet/moist food since kibble by nature is nearly twice as high in carbs. Wet food is much easier to digest due to the higher water content.
Stick to a limited ingredient diet using one single meat, fish, fowl, or poultry protein source. Typically, turkey and lamb cause the least amount of issues. Feeding foods that contain chicken, turkey, beef and whatnot can be too taxing on your dog’s already weakened immune system right now. I personally use canned Nulo LID Turkey which works on all life stages.
READ THOSE LABELS! Look for high quality meat protein as the first 3 ingredients! Stay away from corn, wheat, potatoes, rice and oats. All very high in sugar. I’m astounded at how many vets put allergy suffering dogs on popular brands of RX foods. Basically it’s the same as serving yourself a heaping bowl of sugar chunks to cure your yeasty-rash! While you’re at it, cut out all fruit and treats. It’s not forever, just while your dog is healing.
Next, give your house a good sweep, vacuum and scrub. Wash all bedding, blankets and toys in Dreft, Pure Castile or fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic soap. Close up those windows during peak pollen hours and on high count days.
Grab a hypo-allergenic, gentle, fragrance/color-free, puppy shampoo and read the label. Don’t use any products containing OATMEAL. While oatmeal can be a gentle exfoliating ingredient, many dogs are highly sensitive to grains and applying it directly to their coats can further aggravate things. Your vet may prescribe a medicated wash as well.
Plan exercise and walks for later in the afternoon when winds calm and pollen counts are lower. Upon returning home, wash your dog’s coat to remove any environmental allergens. At the very least, use the shampoo on a wet cloth and wash their paws, around their bottoms, face, ears and any wounds. These cleansers are gentle enough to use daily without drying your pet’s coat.
TREATING THE WOUNDS...
It’s critical to keep your dog's mouth away from the wound while it heals. The sooner the licking stops, the faster the healing. Many dogs will chew right through bandages which adds another problem to your growing list, so pick up an Elizabethan (E-collar) o soft collar. If your dog’s obsessive licking is caused by a behavior issue, this collar will also do the trick by breaking the cycle.
Keeping the wound clean is imperative. I recommend disinfecting with Betadine twice a day. After disinfecting the wound, apply a topical remedy to speed healing. No one remedy works for every dog, so my advice is to try different topicals until the wound is healed. A few options to consider:
Another great way to promote healing is through physical activity. If they get a lot of exercise they’ll be preoccupied and also sleep better at night. If the outdoors is too high on the allergy index, jump into some indoor agility, nose work or training classes.
This is the time to keep stress levels under control. A bored dog left home alone all day or a dog who’s been sent to akennel while you’re away on vacation can begin obsessively licking or bring wound healing to a screeching halt.
Get in the habit of running your hands over your dog and inspecting his coat and paws daily checking for fleas, ticks, bumps or damp fur. Some hot spots can pop up within a matter of hours, while others take longer to appear. Don't wait until there's a nasty irritation before seeking advice from your veterinarian. And as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” Trying these suggestions will certainly reduce a lot of problems AND COST!
I hope these tips bring relief to your dog and you can get out and enjoy the springtime! Be sure to follow me on social for lots of fun, pet-friendly activities going on. Pugs and Kisses! 💕🐾😘