Dog Allergy Stories. Gator the Lab Mix.

Gator - lab mix with dog allergies
Gator resting

Gator is a 13 year old Lab mix. When he was 6 months old, Gator was abandoned along a rural road in South Georgia.  When his owner Catherine rescued him, she noticed that he had severe skin problems.  She assumed that these skin issues were caused by fleas and ticks or that Gator suffered from mange, all common skin problem suffered by abandoned animals. 

After Gator was treated for his ticks and fleas, he was then checked and cleared for mange.  Yet, his skin problems continued. Gator had oozing rashes on his stomach, under his legs, in his groin area and on his muzzle.  He also developed frequent ear infections.  Catherine found that Gator would scratch at his skin until it became raw and bloody. 

Catherine and her family continued to look for other causes for Gator’s skin problems. They began to realize that he was likely suffering from allergies.  Catherine started trying different foods, but found that it had no affect on Gator. They also tried to limit the amount of time Gator spent outside and were careful to wipe him down when he came back indoors. Yet, none of these solutions helped with Gator’s skin condition.     

After about sixteen months of trial and error, Catherine was starting to narrow down the cause of Gator’s allergic reactions.  Catherine discovered that Gator’s allergies were very seasonal, and she believed they were caused by molds and pollen since his allergies are always worse in the Spring and Summer months.  Working with Gator’s vet, they found that the best treatment for Gator’s allergies was through a combination of medication and bathing

To treat Gator’s allergies on a daily basis, Catherine gives Gator a 2.5mg dose of Prednisone (steroid medication), a Claritin tablet and 250mg of milk thistle.  The milk thistle is given to protect Gator from potential liver damage problems which can be caused by continual dosages of Prednisone.  Gator is also given weekly baths.  If Gator is having a strong allergy flare up, Catherine will increase his Prednisone dose up to 10mg daily and his baths are increased to every three days.

Gator has allergies
Gator in his yard

Catherine and her family have found that regardless of where they live, Gator continues to have skin problems.  Their family has lived in Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and Florida and has seen no change in Gator’s allergy problems. 

When asked what advice she would offer to other dog owners, Catherine suggests that owners never assume that their dog is allergic to just one thing.  If the dog has allergies, they are usually allergic to several different elements.  She also suggests that if dog owners decide to use Prednisone, they should go with the lowest dosage available and look into giving them milk thistle to prevent against liver damage.  Owners should be open to trying new medications and therapies and never give up.  It’s important to try everything they can to keep their pup as comfortable as possible. 

Catherine has certainly been keeping Gator comfortable. He is thirteen years old and going strong thanks to her efforts to keep his allergies under control.

Dog Allergy Treatments. Cut Your Grass Short & Avoid Fields.

If you have a large yard or live in a rural area, the grass in your area may be contributing to your dog’s allergies.  If your dog has allergies, be sure to mow your lawn regularly to ensure that grasses are kept short and not allowed to go to seed.  Grass seeds are the cause of many allergy cases.

Since you can’t control how others maintain their grass, it’s best to steer clear of open fields if you suspect your dog has allergies. Of course, this isn’t realistic for many dogs – particularly working and hunting breeds.

If your dog has allergies, but can’t avoid running through long grass, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about wiping down their paws and providing frequent baths to cut down on the allergens that cling to their skin.

Dog Allergy Causes. Pollen, Grass & Trees.

Dog in GrassPollen is the fertilizing element of flowering plants.  It is a fine powder which is released year round, although mainly in spring, from trees weeds and grasses.  This powder rides currents of air, with the goal to fertilize other plants.  This fertilization goal is not always achieved by each pollen grain.  Unfortunately, for the allergy sufferers of the world, many of these grains are inhaled by humans or pets and are the cause for seasonal allergies.

If you find that your dog shows allergy symptoms in the spring, chances are they are allergic to pollen. Your first instinct may be to rid your yard of any pollen-producing plants.  Don’t waste your time.  Since pollen is carried long distances, often many miles, it does little good to remove pollen-producing plants from your yard.  In fact, most allergic pollens come from plants like ragweed, which grows in open fields, and of which you have little control over.

Grasses and trees can also produce allergen-causing pollens.  The grass species that produce highly allergic pollens are Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Orchard grass, Redtop grass, Sweet vernal grass and Timothy grass.  Trees that produce allergic pollens are Ash, Box Elder, Elm, Hickory, Mountain Cedar, Oak, and Pecan. 

Unless you plan to remove all pollen producing plants, weeds, grasses and trees in your 30-mile radius (or more on windy days!), there is little you can do to control pollen.  However, there are some steps you can take to minimize your dog’s exposure to pollen. We’ll discuss this later when we review dog allergy treatments.