Over the past few weeks, I’ve received an alert on my phone nearly every morning notifying me that it’s a “High Allergen” day. Of course, I don’t need an alert to tell me that. I can feel it! I didn’t grow up in the Northeast, so my body doesn’t have any sort of natural protection against many of the pollen that are floating around in the air right now. External allergens can affect our dogs as well, leading to discomfort and in some cases, infections that may require veterinary treatment.
Ears may be red and itchy and/or have a waxy discharge. You may notice your dog shaking and scratching his head more frequently.
Paws may be itchy and inflamed, leading your dog to chew and lick them more frequently.
Skin and coat may be dry or discolored, and you may notice bare spots. Your dog might scratch, lick, or rub on objects in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.
None of us want our pets to be uncomfortable. Some pets have such severe allergies that veterinary intervention is necessary, but there’s a lot that you can do naturally to help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
1. Wipe down your dog after he’s been outdoors. This will remove a lot of the pollen from the fur and paws. Make sure to clean in between the paw pads as well. You can use plain water or a natural product like our Tangle Tamer. The Apple Cider vinegar used in the spray is a natural anti-fungal. Our Pad Protector contains coconut oil, which also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
2. Bathe your dog every other week during allergy season. Choose a gentle, natural shampoo. An oatmeal bath is easy to do at home and can help to provide relief.
3. Consider using local raw honey to build immunity. Local honey contains tiny amounts of pollen. There is some research that suggests that ingesting a little bit of locally harvested honey may provide relief from seasonal allergies. Honey is also rich in powerful antioxidants. Do NOT feed raw honey to dogs under one year of age, and always feed in moderation. There’s a lot of natural sugar in honey. A quarter teaspoon of honey per 10 pounds of body weight is plenty for health benefits.
4. Clean the ears regularly. Witch hazel is available at your local drugstore. It has a drying effect and is also anti-inflammatory. Wet a cotton ball with witch hazel and optionally add one drop of lavender, which is also soothing. Wipe the external part of the ear with the cotton ball. I don’t recommend using witch hazel if there are any scratches inside the ear, as it may sting if used on broken skin.
5. Wash bedding regularly with a gentle detergent. This will remove allergens from the bedding such as dust mites and any pollen that may be on your dog’s fur. Chemicals and fragrances in commercial detergents may aggravate your dog’s skin, so choose a natural detergent if possible. I use the fragrance free Ecoegg laundry egg.
6. Feed a high quality diet. This is the cornerstone of a healthy immune system. The right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and easily absorbed nutrients will help keep your dog’s immune system functioning at peak performance.
These are just a few suggestions of some simple things you can do at home to help your dog through allergy season. If your dog has any known health conditions, you should always consult your veterinarian before adding any supplements. As is the case with human supplements, the FDA has no regulation over pet supplements, so the quality can vary widely. If you suspect that your dog has an infection, please schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.