We’ve all had that summer experience; you get out of the pool, grab a towel and sprint as fast as you can over the asphalt, hoping your feet don’t burn. Well, it’s the same for our dogs! Their pads are awesome for walking on rough surfaces and different terrain, but they just aren’t heat proof. Here are a couple ways to help your pooch when you’re out on a walk!
Watch where you walk
Shade is your pup’s best friend! If you’ve got a wooded park with dirt paths nearby, you’re golden! Try to look for routes that have been shaded for most of the day. Asphalt can really hold in the heat, so it’s best to either go earlier in the morning before it’s warmed up, or in the evening after it’s been in the shade a while.
If there’s not a ton of shade where you live, try to find sidewalks and paths with grass next to it so your dog can walk in the cool, green grass. If there’s a lake, even better!
Pamper your pooch with paw protectors
There are tons of cute booties on the market for dogs now, and the rubber sole on the bottom will definitely protect their feet. Sometimes it may take some getting used to though…
In an ideal world, nothing would ever happen to our pooch’s paws, but it’s impossible to avoid the asphalt forever. There are some great salves on the market to help your pet’s paws recover! Here’s a great one from Natural Dog Company with all natural ingredients. Since dogs tend to lick their paws to help them heal, it’s important to get something that’s as natural as possible.
How do you keep your dog’s paws cool? Let us know in the comments below!
Jordan Walker is very passionate about animals. As the lead content curator for Coops and Cages and other pet-related blog sites, he has written several articles about them and other various topics. In this post, he shares information on the best dog breeds that you can have if you have children at home.
There are several movies and TV series in which the main star is a dog. Though they are fun to watch, you should not base your choices on these shows. There are many things you have to consider when choosing a dog breed. You need to understand its disposition, temperament, energy level and size, as well as your family’s lifestyle. Also, you need to ask the breeder regarding the breed you are about to get for your family. So without further ado, here are the top five dog breeds that you can get for your kids.
The Bull Dog
Bulldogs have a tough, sturdy frame, which is perfect for children who love to horseplay. But if you are looking for an energetic pooch, then this is not the best choice. Bulldogs are friendly, gentle, and loyal. They can get along with other pets and breeds too. They can live in small apartments, as well as the big ones.
If you are familiar with Snoopy’s best friend, Woodstock, then you definitely have a little idea of how this breed looks like. Originally, beagles were hunting dogs. However, dog owners nowadays keep this canine breed as a pet. Beagles are perfect playmates for the active kids. They are strong and never get tired of playing. They are friendly, jolly and smart, which allows them to easily get along with other animals. But still, you need to give them regular bath as they tend to shed.
The Bull Terrier
Many people thought that they are aggressive because of their appearance. But actually, the Bull Terrier is one of the gentlest dogs that you can get. They are the best companion not only for adults, but also for kids. They can resist pain, which make them a perfect choice for rowdy kids, who are starting to learn how to treat dogs properly.
The Bull Terrier is a bit noisy. If you don’t play dog games with them, they may cause commotions in your house. Though they are a bit unruly sometimes, rest assured they will protect you and your children in times of trouble.
Lassie, the famous dog in the family-oriented TV series of the same name, is a dog that belongs to this breed. Collies are gentle and easy to train, making it perfect for first timers. They rarely bite that make them an ideal choice for those who have kids. The good thing about this breed is that they are affectionate and protective.
Though they are mild-mannered, Collies were originally bred as a herding dog. Hence, don’t be afraid if your dog tries to herd your children. However, you must train your pooch not to herd your kids, even if it can be very reliable, especially if you are taking care a lot of kids. Since Collies have long fur, you need to give your dog proper and regular grooming to make it look neat and pleasant.
Often called as the “Nature’s Babysitter”, this breed is a kid-lover and is very protective of them. People define the Newfoundland dog breed as the Mother Teresa of dogs because of its kind, gentle and patient traits.
Families who have large open spaces in their houses can adopt this canine. Though they shed excessively and drool, they prefer staying inside and close to their masters. They are good swimmers and save lives of many people during emergencies.
Now you know some of the best dog breeds that you can get for your family, it will be easier for you to choose one that suits your family’s lifestyle. With these breeds, not only is your house protected from burglars and other wrongdoers, you can also rely on them in times of need.
Author: Jordan Walker
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops and Cages as well as a couple of other pet-related blogs. His passion for animals is only paired with his love for “attempting” to play the guitar. If you would like to catch more of him, you can by following his Twitter account: @JordanWalker82
July 31st is National Mutt Day, a day all about saving, caring for, embracing and celebrating mixed breed dogs. Created in 2005 by Animal Welfare advocate Colleen Paige this day was created to spread awareness about mixed breed dogs, especially those who are stuck in shelters and in need of loving homes.
One of the most compelling reasons to adopt a mutt rather than a purebred is the overflow of dogs in our shelters, as around 75% of the dogs in animal shelters are mixed breeds. The tragedy of pet overpopulation is still far from being solved, but with continued adoptions of those dogs left in shelters and spay/neuter programs this problem can begin to be solved. With so many types of mutts to choose from there is a perfect dog for everyone! Whether it be big, small, short hair or long hair your dream dog can be found as near as your local shelter.
One of the benefits of mutts is their “hybrid vigor.” When two or more breeds are mixed, the recessive genes that carry health problems are buried, leaving you with a healthier animal. Mixed breeds also tend to be more temperamentally sound than their purebred counterparts. Not all dogs in a breed hold true to their stereotypes, but generalizations about breed temperament often hold true. Mixed breeds are typically less extreme when it comes to their temperaments as the mixing of breeds can eliminate behaviors that are considered bad just as with the elimination of some health problems. Of course character and behavioral traits can manifest in mixed-breed dogs, just in a more diluted form.
There are many things people can do to help out with National Mutt Day this July. You can go down to the local shelter and give a mutt the loving home they deserve, or if a new dog in your life isn’t an option you can also go down and walk a dog or volunteer to help out at the shelter. By giving your time, effort and support to your local shelters you can greatly increase the chances of the pups there being adopted. Donations including money, food and other supplies are also always needed by shelters, take a look on your local shelters website and see what supplies they are in need of. The goal set by Paige for National Mutt Day is to have 10,000 mutts adopted on July 31st, so when the end of the month rolls around see what you can do to help meet this goal and give mixed-breeds the loving homes they deserve!
Summer is definitely here, and it’s come in full force. With weather easily reaching the high 90’s and above, dog owners have a lot of responsibility when it comes to keeping their pets safe. There is a lot we can do to ensure our pet’s safety and comfort including:
The obvious – Don’t leave your dog in a hot car
Watch for signs of heat stroke and take preventative measures
Avoid walking dogs on hot asphalt
Watch the humidity, not just the heat
Provide plenty of cool water and shade for your four-legged friend
Most people know to not keep their dogs in a car, especially on a hot summer day, but some people may not know all of the facts. Even if it is just for a few minutes, heat levels in a car can reach dangerous levels. On a 78 degree day, a car parked in the shade can reach 90 degrees within minutes, and a car parked in the sun at this same temperature can reach an astonishing 160 degrees. These temperatures are more than dangerous for humans, let alone a dog. Dogs are unable to sweat through their bodies like humans and must rely on their paws and panting to regulate their body temperature. It takes only 15 minutes for a dog to reach temperatures that are damaging and could end up suffering heat stroke and even death.
There are numerous signs of heat stroke and there are easy preventative measures you can take to keep your dog happy and safe. Signs of heat stroke include:
a bright red tongue
increased heart rate
Dogs with shorter, pushed-in noses, such as Boxers, Pugs and Shih Tzus can have an even harder time breathing in the hot air as their snouts are not as elongated as other breeds. Preventing your pooch from suffering heat stroke can be quick and easy, a main point being to provide cool water at all times. Cool water will not only keep your dog hydrated in the heat, but will also help regulate their internal temperature. Keeping a dog in cooler areas of a house or in the shade if outside will also help this internal temperature stay in a safe zone. Don’t overexert your pooch in the heat, try to limit running and play time as, just like a human, strenuous activities can add to the danger of heat.
Another danger in the heat that many owners do not think about is walking a dog on hot surfaces such as asphalt, concrete or bricks. Surfaces like roads and sidewalks can reach temperatures much higher than the air, a 77 degree day can have roads that reach 125 degrees and an 87 degree day can have that same road reach 143 degrees. With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees recently, the roads your dogs are walking can easily reach over 150 degrees. If you can “fry an egg” on the road, your pooches paws will also be fried. The pads of dog’s paws can burn very easily, comparable to the bottoms of a human’s feet or hands. A quick test you can do to make sure your dogs will be safe is to hold your hand on the asphalt for 30 seconds. If you have to move your hand before the 30 seconds are up it is too hot to walk your dog on the surface.
Humidity is a big factor when it comes to the safety of dogs, and one that many pet owners don’t think of. Humidity will add to what the temperature feels like outside, taking a toll when the temperature without humidity is already 90 or more degrees. This increases the chances of a dog suffering from heat stroke as well as the temperature of asphalt. Pets can overheat quickly since panting is not an efficient way of cooling down, especially in a high-humidity environment. Dogs pant to evaporate moisture to their lungs, but if the humidity is too high this means of cooling down is no longer viable.
Summer can be a fun and safe season for you and your dogs. Please just use common sense and think of them because they will not complain if they are with you!
Dr. Heather Moeser, MS, DVM & Brittney McLamb NCSU-CVM Vet Student
Downtown Mobile Vet
Did you know that many common household items are potential poisons to your furry children? Below are a list of common small animal poisons that your pets may come contact / ingest while in their environment.
Top 10 Small Animal Toxins
1) Human prescriptions such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to treat depression. Common clinical signs in small animals include sedation or central nervous system stimulation, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), diarrhea and abdominal pain
2) Amphetamines, such as those used to treat ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy and illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, crystal meth and ecstacy. Clinical sings of intoxication include agitation, tremors, seizures, tachycardia (increased heart rate), vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and panting.
3) Sleep aids such as Ambien and Lunesta. CNS signs of intoxication range from depression ataxia, and paresis to hyperactivity, anxiety, agitation and tremors. Other clinical signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, panting and hyperthermia.
4) Grapes, raisins, and currant. These common household foods have been linked to acute renal failure in dogs that ingested them. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy dehydration, anorexia, and abdominal pain. Kidney failure may be present as soon as 24 hours after ingestions.
5) Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as those that containing ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Advil & Aleve) pose a risk for toxicosis, With NSAID toxicosis the GI tract, kidneys, CNS and platelets can be affected. With cats, severe renal failure is most commonly seen with NSAID toxicosis. Clinical signs include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, black tarry feces, abdominal pain, lethargy, malaise and dehydration.
6) Acetominophen (Tylenol) is an over the count analgesic and antipyretic used in human medicine. This drug is safe for human use, however it has a narrow margin of safety in dogs and cats that can develop severe toxicosis. In cats, lethargy, swelling of the face or paws, respiratory distress, brown mucous membranes, cyanosis, vomiting and anorexia can occur. In dogs, hepatic injury is more likely which presents as malaise, anorexia, hepatic encephalopathy (neurological symptoms from liver disease), vomiting, black tarry feces, and icterus (yellow mucous membranes).
7) Xylitol is a sugar free sweetener found in diabetic snacks, foods, mouthwashes, toothpastes, chewing gum, mints, candies and chewable vitamins. Sugar-less products with Xylitol listed in the first five ingredients can result in severe toxicosis within the first thirty minutes of ingestion. Clinical signs associated with toxicity include, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, collapse, anorexia, and hypoglycemia.
8) Rodent bait stations can be toxic to pets and clinical signs will not be present until 48 hours after ingestion. These include sever GI signs (vomiting, bloat, abdominal pain), CNS signs (tremors, seizure), and pulmonary signs (pulmonary edema and increased heart rate).
9) Household cleaners. Most surface cleaners are non-toxic and upon ingestion can result in minor GI signs. However, some concentrated cleaner can be toxic and corrosive to your pet. Appropriate pet proofing is the easiest way to prevent this toxicosis.
10) Batteries. When the casing of a battery is punctured there is risk of alkaline or acidic material to leak out, which can result in severe ulceration to any exposed tissues. Lithium button type batteries are the most dangerous and necrosis of the GI tract can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion.
What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested toxic material and how to prevent it? The first step in preventing an accidental toxicosis is to adequately pet proof your house and to educate yourself on what items could pose a danger to your pets. A valuable resource for education and general knowledge about potential household hazards or to ask about toxin related questions is the Pet Poison Helpline. This is a 24/7 Animal Control Center that has many beneficial Internet resources and staff on hand to answer any questions. If your pet ingests a toxin please call your veterinarian and/or the pet poison hotline immediately. The sooner your pet is diagnoses, the easier, and safer and less costly it is to treat!
Downtown Mobile Vet – 919-917-8312 – www.downtownmobilevet.com
Exercise is good for you and your pets. However, have you ever decided to take a run mid day during the summer time? After recently making that choice in this hot weather, I am still feeling the effects of it. I felt dizzy, and I couldn’t catch my breath, but it seemed like such a beautiful sunny day and I am a regular runner. It reminded me that although exercising on a beautiful day is usually good, it could also be dangerous, especially for your pets. Make sure you assess the weather before you exercise your pet to avoid hyperthermia and heat stroke in your pet, potentially life threatening diseases. There are 3 common clinical signs to look for and 3 things that you can do if you suspect your pet to have an elevated body temp or heat stroke.
Common causes of hyperthermia (body temp > 103 °F) and heat stroke (body temp > 106 °F) are environmental conditions or situations including hot humid day, mistakenly being confined to an area with limited ventilation (i.e. NO CAR RIDES) or too much exercise and decreased water access.
CLINICAL SIGNS OF HYPERTHERMIA AND HEAT STROKE INCLUDE
PANTING/ DROOLING – If your dog is excessively panting or drooling then they need to come inside to AC and get attention. Dogs naturally pant as a cooling mechanism, but they should be able to control their breathing to some extent if not overheated.
DIFFICULTY BREATHING – is your pet unable to catch their breath or having difficulty breathing. Other signs may include brick red gum color and increased heart rate. These pets need to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.
ABNORMAL WALKING – if your pet is moderately to severely overheated they may experience stumbling, stupor, or becoming unresponsive. These pets need to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.
Other clinical signs include bloody diarrhea, seizures, and death.
If you have done your best to avoid the causes of hyperthermia and heat stroke and you feel your pet is showing some of these signs then there are some actions that can be done in your home for mild cases. Please recognize that Moderate to Severe cases need to go to the veterinarian immediately for intravenous fluids and medications.
COMMON ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE IF YOU SUSPECT HYPERTHERMIA
WATER – Big ol’ bowl of water! You can help cool your pet by giving cold water. Additionally, a baby swimming pool may offer some relief during these hot days.
RUBBING ALCOHOL – you can put cold water/rubbing alcohol on your paw pads and the inside of their ear flaps. These are the only places where your dogs and cats can perspire. This will cause evaporative cooling which is another natural mechanism that animals use to regulate their internal temperature.
AC/FAN – decreasing the environmental temperature gradually and increasing the ventilation can also help decrease your pet’s mild hyperthermia.
If you have any questions how your pet is responding or if the initial steps are not helping then you will need to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately for advanced diagnostics and possibly hospitalization. Summer weather is great; we just need to be careful when we enjoy it. Heat stroke is a serious diagnosis and can quickly lead to irreversible changes in your pet’s health including death.
Let’s face it, not everyone has a niece that is a veterinarian that you can call for advice when their pet is not acting right. Many times this happens on a weekend or during evening hours when most veterinary clinics are closed. It is a struggle to decide whether to bring your pet to the veterinarian and how much is it going to cost! When in doubt, it is always better to bring your pet to the veterinarian or emergency veterinarian because a veterinarian’s complete physical exam is invaluable. In the meantime, there are some things that you can do at home that can help you decide whether you need to see a professional immediately or if you can wait.
Temperature: Any thermometer can be used to obtain a rectal temperature – As expected; many pets prefer a flexible tip fast digital thermometer. The normal range is between 99.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (dogs) and 100.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (cats).
Heart rate: The heart rate can be counted by palpating the heart in the most dependent portion mid chest or by feeling the femoral artery located on the inside portion of the mid-thigh. The normal rate can be counted for a full minute or estimated by counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4. The normal rage for heart rate is 60-160 (dogs) and 140-220 (cats).
Heart Rate (Pulse)
Table 1 Approximate Normal Ranges for Vital Signs
Respiration: The respiratory rate is counted while the pet is not panting or purring and at rest. Again, count to 15 and multiply by 4 or count the breaths during a full minute. The normal range is 10-30 (dogs) and 24-42 (cats).
Mucous Membranes: The mucous membranes can usually be assessed by lifting your pet’s lip and observing the gums. Note the color of the gums. Normally, the gums are pink in color, indicating good peripheral blood circulation. If they are pale or white it can be a sign of anemia or shock and yellow a sign of liver disease.
CRT – Capillary Refill Time: The CRT is the rate in which blood refills empty capillaries. To perform this test apply light pressure to your pets gums until they become pale and count how long it take for them to return to their original color. Any time less than 2 seconds is normal. This can be a sign or decreased peripheral blood perfusion and dehydration.
Lightly palpating your pet for lumps and bumps on the surface of their skin and/or any discomfort they may have can be helpful. Gently raise your pet’s skin to check the turgor. If it takes longer for the skin to go back into place this can also be a sign of dehydration. Feel your pet’s abdomen to assess if it is tight, soft, uncomfortable, etc. Be aware that your pet could experience extreme discomfort during this process and be careful not to surprise them or cause them pain that could result in them biting someone. If you have any doubts then you need to bring them immediately to the vet.
You know your pet best! You are the best judge of your pet’s behaviors and if they are feeling sick or not acting right. Trust your gut. Additionally, if you have a “fufu” pet then keep in mind they may be feeding off of your worries and responding to your emotions. Is your pet eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping normally? Are they hesitating when offered a treat, not as active, not going up or down the stairs, and getting on the bed? Write your observations down including time and it can help you realize if something is not right.
In conclusion, if your pet is experiencing anything outside these normal ranges of objective parameters (vital signs) or subjective findings (pain, abnormal behaviors) then either call your mobile vet or grab your keys and seek medical attention immediately.
I don’t know about you, but after 8 years in Minnesota, I’m done with the cold. I’m done with the chapped lips, and cracked hands, and I’m especially done with the wind that rips across you, leaving nothing but a chilled skeleton in its wake. But, God bless them, my dogs will spend any time they can outside, whether it’s 9 degrees or 90. So what could I do with my dogs inside when I just wasn’t able to drag myself out to into the cold? I wanted to exercise both their minds and bodies, and I have to say, I found some good ideas that I’m excited to share!
The first one is relatively simple; the old “throw it in a blanket and see how long it takes for the dog to realize it’s in the blanket and not in their bowl.” Now, we have both a Jack Russell in our family, and a Bull Mastiff, two polar opposites on many fields- One big, one small, one lazy, one super lazy, one smart, one not so smart. You catch my drift. The premise is simple: all you need to do is get a relatively small blanket, any couch throw blanket will do, and a few treats. Show your dog that you have the treats, and get them excited. Then throw the treats on the floor, and the blanket quickly on top. You may have to have another person hold the dog back at first! Some dogs, like our Josephine, will automatically dig at the blanket, use their nose to burrow, or all of the above until they get the treats they want. Others, like our dear old Piper, will stare at the blanket, and look back up at you as if “and you expect me to do what?” Part of the fun of the game is to see if you can teach them a new skill.
Do you know the muffin man? Because apparently, he’s a dog trainer too! An innovative game known as the “muffin tin game” is both fun and unique. What you’ll need is a muffin tin, some tennis balls, and some treats. Begin by showing your dog the treats being put in the muffin tin, then put tennis balls over some of the treats and let them go at it. Once they’ve realized that there are treats in the tins, there are a couple of ways this can go, either they will knock each tennis ball off like a good puppy, or our energetic friends will go crazy and throw the tin around, making a fun mess with both treats and tennis balls, a great mix. Eventually you can begin not putting treats under each tennis ball, and switch everything up. Our baby Piper is especially fun to play this game with, because her mouth and jowls are so big. She sticks that big lounge of hers inside each little muffin cup, knock balls over all over the place, lift her head up and run over to investigate what she’d knocked over, pick it up, remember the treats, drop the ball, run over, stick her lounge all over the place, and so on and so forth. It was a fun and slobbery mess!
The final game is one you can get the whole family involved in, hide and seek! What you’ll need to do is have 2 family members, one to hide and one to encourage the dog. (Later on you could possibly add a few more people for our advanced players out there!) At first, have your dog watch as one person walks off into another room and “hide” (don’t make it too difficult at first). Have the encourager rile the dog up saying things like “Where’s ____? Find _____! Good dog!” and walk to the room where the dog had seen the person walk into. When the dog finds the hidden person, make sure they encourage the dog a lot, maybe even have treats. Eventually, when the dog gets the concept, you don’t need to let them see what room they’ve hidden in, and let them use that great nose of theirs to find them! Our little one, Josephine, was a surprise tracker, which we found out through this game. It took her only a few practice runs to get the concept, and she was off! Josephine can now find 3 people hiding, and she isn’t allowed to see which room they go to. She sticks her little nose to the ground, and move the toothpick legs protruding from her potato shaped body at speeds we’ve never seen before just to find everyone!
As long as you and your best friend are together and having a good time, that is all that matters. Have fun with it, and be inventive! If you have fun games or ideas to go along with these games, be sure to try them out and come back and share them!
Forget About Fleas with the Right Flea Prevention for You and Your Family. These days there are a number of flea preventatives to choose from including a bath in dawn soap to kill adult to monthly topical and oral preventatives that also prevent heartworms and gastrointestinal parasites. It can be overwhelming, but to simplify how to choose just listen to the fleas themselves they can help you decide: F – Friendly. Ensure the product is friendly to both the environment and your pet. Avoid preventatives that can create toxicities in your pet. Generally, these are older products with great packaging that can be safe when used carefully, but can have severe neurological consequences if your pet is given an overdose. Additionally, many spot-on products for dogs contain higher concentrations of permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. They are derived from Chrysanthemum spp. Natural pyrethrins are less stable and potent than synthetic products. Use caution when using these preventatives on your pet. Additionally, do not use spot on preparations for your dogs on your cats. The two species have differences in their metabolism and will cause severe toxicity. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions. L – Lifestyle. Consider your lifestyle and activity with your pet. Does your pet swim or get bathed frequently? If yes, then an oral preventative rather than a topical flea preventative may the better choice for your family. Are you forgetful or have difficultly remembering if you gave the flea or heartworm? It may be best to give an oral tablet or topical solution that does flea, heartworm and intestinal deworming. E – Effective. Your flea preventative must kill and prevent fleas in order to work. There are some products that may work better for your environment and flea population than others. It is important to make sure you are applying it correctly and not removing your topical preventative with shampoos that strip the product from your pet’s hair or sebaceous glands. A – Affordable. There is a wide range of flea preventatives available. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary staff to discuss all the options, including those available over the counter. Keep in mind that preventing fleas helps save you money when considering the other illnesses your pet can experience secondary to a flea bite or infestation. These include exposure to tapeworms, which require special costly deworming to eliminate the infection. Multiple trips to your veterinarian for generalized dermatitis or hot spot (skin infections) treatments. Additionally, some pets become ill from blood loss or anemia. Fleas are sucking your pets’ blood by the way. FYI if you are in a bind, a one-time adult flea treatment can be a bath with Dawn dishwashing soap. Keep in mind that this detergent could irritate our pet’s skin.
Overall, flea gives us a great acronym to use to help remember how to prevent and treat for them. It should be FRIENDLY, meet you and your pet’s LIFESTYLE, be EFFECTIVE, and AFFORDABLE. Remember, veterinarians are nice people and we do not mind answering any of your questions about these and other pet health concerns. We are here to help.
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances—or allergens— as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.
Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?
• Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
• Increased scratching
• Itchy, runny eyes
• Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
• Itchy ears and ear infections
• Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
• Paw chewing/swollen paws
• Constant licking
Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.
Which Dogs Are At Risk for Getting Allergies?
Any dog can develop allergies at any time during his life, but allergic reactions seem to be especially common in terriers, setters, retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers.
Please note that food allergies may show up in dogs at any age.
What Can Dogs Be Allergic To?
A few common allergens include:
• Tree, grass and weed pollens
• Mold spores
• Dust and house dust mites
• Cigarette smoke
• Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
• Fleas and flea-control products (The bite of a single flea can trigger itchiness)
• Cleaning products
• Insecticidal shampoo
• Rubber and plastic materials
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Food?
Yes, but it often takes some detective work to find out what ingredient is causing the allergic reaction. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, ear infections, breathing difficulties or gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, and an elimination diet will most probably be used to determine what food he is allergic to. If your dog is specifically allergic to chicken, for example, you should avoid feeding him any products containing chicken protein or fat.
How Are Dog Allergies Diagnosed?
If your dog’s itchy, red or irritated skin persists beyond initial treatment by a veterinarian, allergy testing, most often performed by a veterinary dermatologist, is needed. The diagnostic test of choice is an intradermal skin test similar to the one performed on humans.
The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a controlled, limited ingredient diet. The importance of not feeding your dog anything but the diet cannot be emphasized enough—that means no treats, table food or flavored medication. This diet will be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old foods to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.
How Can Dog Allergies Be Treated?
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.
• Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and the environment.
• If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly—this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
• Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.
• If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on a limited ingredient diet. Once the allergy is determined you can introduce new foods to their diet as long as they do not contain the allergen.
Are There Allergy Medications for Dogs?
Since certain substances cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic reaction:
• In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections. These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent, instead of just masking the itch.
• Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but may only benefit a small percentage of dogs with allergies. Ask your vet first.
• Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.
• An immune modulating drug may also be helpful.
• If the problem is severe, you may have to resort to cortisone to control the allergy. However these drugs are strong and should be used with caution and only under the guidance of your veterinarian.