Our pup columnist Lucy shares advice for Central Texas dogs struggling with canine seasonal allergies.
By Lucy J. Phillips, Cappuccino photos by Carrie Runn, Lucy photo courtesy of Hannah J. Phillips
As a Central Texas pup, my skin gets really itchy and I can’t help but give it a good scratch after I’ve walked with my human outdoors. My favorite thing to do is play catch outside, but it makes me so itchy! Do you have any recommendations to cope with seasonal allergies without giving up my favorite pastime?
Cappuccino the Cute Retriever
You have no idea how much I feel your pain—literally. While humans are busy complaining about all the sneezing and coughing that comes with the budding pollen this time of year, some don’t realize that allergies affect their dogs as well! I did a little digging on the causes of these pesky allergies and a couple of solutions you might want to explore.
A lot of Austinites—especially new transplants—report a surprising delay in their own allergy symptoms. In 2012, an article in The New York Times reported that humans can develop new allergies in new environments, often after three to five years of exposure. Similarly, puppies might not react to seasonal allergies until later in life, and I went nearly five blissful years before I started to develop really red, itchy skin during our dry Texas winters and early springs.
The American Kennel Club recommends contacting your vet if you start to develop symptoms like itchy, runny eyes, sneezing or red, inflamed skin. During one particularly painful episode last year, we ended up with a few products that took care of the immediate problem, but my human worked with the veterinary team at Lake Austin Boulevard Animal Hospital to find a more preventative solution. (She now refers to my gorgeous coat as “delicate princess fur” and while often I detect a hint of sarcasm, I can’t say I disagree).
Along with a foaming cleanser my vet provided for specific flare-ups, she recommended I take a daily dose of Zyrtec (or generic equivalent) with my food—just like my human! Now, it’s part of our daily routine with breakfast before we head out into the world to crush our goals (which in my case is seeing how long I can nap and barking at the mailman). Since most allergies are caused by dust, pollen and grass,
I do take more frequent baths to keep that princess fur looking fresh, but the daily Zyrtec has prevented more severe reactions.
I can’t stress enough that it’s really important to chat with your vet while searching for the right solution. First, while itchiness may not seem like more than a minor inconvenience, skin allergies pose the risk of secondary infection; scratching, biting or licking your skin can lead to really painful hot spots that require antibiotics. I hope you’ll take my word on that one!
Second, while Benadryl and Zyrtec products are safe for dogs, there can be side effects associated with taking the wrong dosage. Be sure to get your vet’s advice on the right amount based on your weight before you start taking any pills. My vet provided a handy cheat sheet of all the different brands and dosages so we could make an informed decision.
I hope this advice will keep your own fur looking fresh this year— even after a good roll in the grass!
If you have a dog-related question for Lucy, reach out and follow her on Instagram @asklucydog.