How To Manage Dog Allergies

by Audra
(Wellington, KS)

Reader Question: How to treat a dog with allergies

My 3-year-old Jack Russell (Chevy) this spring has developed allergies for the first time. She chews on the bottom of her feet until they are raw! She is mainly white and short haired so it was easy to notice the paws and her stomach turned bright red. I am assuming this allergy is related to air allergens, but that hasn't been confirmed.

The vet gave her prednisone and omega 3 pills. After a few days she finally started improving. We have been done with the prednisone for about 2 months and things seem to be flaring back up. Do I need to have her take the prednisone all summer and I'm in hopes that these will calm down in the winter? Is there anything else I can do at home?

Can "people" medications such as Benadryl or Claritin be given to a dog? She is an inside pet and goes out to potty and play with the family. She is the youngest child and has been a wonderful addition to the family!!

Suggestions From Our Veterinarian

Hi Audra,

Unfortunately, the scenario you describe (treating allergies only to have them flare back up later) is all too common. Allergies can only be managed, not cured, and tend to get worse over time. They generally can be handled in two ways: desensitization therapy or symptomatic treatment.

Intradermal allergy testing is the best way to determine what environmental allergens your dog could be reacting to and then develop an appropriate serum for desensitization therapy. Blood tests are also available but are not as well regarded. Allergy serums can be given by injection (allergy shots) or orally, but both often need to be given for years to be fully effective.

Symptomatic treatment for environmental allergies often includes weekly baths with a mild shampoo designed for allergies, using topical products like Dermoscent or Duoxo Seborrhea Spray-on to increase the barrier properties of the skin, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, omega 3 fatty acid supplements, and prescription medications that reduce the allergic response and itching.

Dogs tend to do better when receiving a combination of these therapies rather than just one alone.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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