dog with allergies

Allergy Season Can Affect Dogs, Too

We guessed in late summer 2011 that Dusty has environmental allergies. But it turns out that summer 2011 had nothing on summer 2012.

So itchy!

Midway through our vacation, Dusty started scratching himself nonstop. My immediate concern was bug bites (since we don’t use heartworm prevention because of toxicity concerns), but we had seen nearly no mosquitoes, and there was no evidence of fleas: neither Cora nor Hogan was scratching. It was just Dusty.

We treated him with Benadryl—one tablet twice a day. It helped, but he was still getting itchy about four hours after each dose. We also started putting a T-shirt on him whenever we took him outside and wiping him down thoroughly when he came inside (we really wanted to avoid a cone!). Other measures we took included increasing the flax oil we give him daily, spraying him with Benadryl spray (in places he couldn’t lick, either because he couldn’t reach them or because they were covered by the T-shirt), brushing him more often, and using a special conditioner for itchy dogs.

The vet suggested we give him Reactine, so for about four days, we tried that, along with medicated oatmeal baths every other day (which we did for two weeks). The  baths seemed to make no difference at all, other than making our poor hound dog look even sadder than usual. And the Reactine didn’t work as well as the Benadryl, so we returned to Benadryl.

Dusty looking handsome (and extra-long) in one of his T-shirts

A couple of days later, after Dusty had cut himself both below and above his right eye by scratching, we gave in and put him on a steroid/antihistamine drug, Vanectyl-P. We don’t want the steroid to be a long-term solution because of the risks involved, but we’ve got to get the allergies under control.

We went through one course of the drug—four days on one tablet twice a day— and then weaned him down to one tablet a day for seven days on our way to one tablet every other day. That didn’t go so well. After six days on one tablet a day, I called the vet, desperate for something else we could do for him. She put his dose back up to two tablets once a day (together). A couple more calls to the vet later, and he’s now on two tablets twice a day.

Dusty in his new “Canada” T

Tomorrow, we start weaning him down again, but the good news is that he’s hardly scratching himself at all. Fingers crossed that will be the case tomorrow, too.

In the  meantime, we decided to spend the money on allergy tests so that we can learn what he’s allergic to so as to prevent such agony next summer/fall. Once we get the test results, I’ll let you know what they say!

(I also found this great article about relieving the itch of allergies in dogs. If you think your dog may have allergies, check it out!)