By Katy Cable/A 5 min. Read
Wow! We barely rolled into spring and it seems many dog owners are 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. And it’s not just them…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, medications, and products have set them back hundreds of dollars.
I have 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, they eventually become 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 your dog 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, raw or fresh food diet since kibble by nature is nearly twice as high in carbs. Wet food is much easier to digest due to the higher water content. Same holds true for you. Try eating low-histamine, fresh, whole foods.
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 multiple animal proteins can be too taxing on your dog’s already weakened immune system right now.
READ THOSE LABELS! Look for high quality meat protein as the first 3 ingredients! Stay away from corn, wheat, potatoes, rice and other grains. These can exasperate the problem. 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. Again, if your own allergies are flaring up, removing sugar and high glycemic carbs will do a world of good.
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. If you haven’t already vested in an air purifier, get one! Visit my website if you want product suggestions.
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 possibly further aggravate things. Your vet may prescribe a medicated wash to use 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. If they need some extra moisture, rub a dollop of organic coconut oil in your hands and massage it on them after cleaning.
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) or 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 and relief. Your dog may be very uncomfortable so I use CBD oil both topically and on the wounds to calm dogs down. It brings enormous relief and healing. The following options can also be used in addition to CBD. 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 your dog gets 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 a kennel 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!