Winter Allergies: Winter Health Issues in Dogs
Winter seems to be that time of the year when winter health issues for dogs, easily preventable, can cause many unnecessary trips to the vet. Dog allergies are on the rise anymore, with one in seven dogs affected by it with winter allergies playing a large part over the coldest time of the year. At a time when money is tight and the economy is in trouble, recognizing what causes and prevents these winter health issues in dogs will save money and improve the health of our favorite friend.
In some cases, medical issues in the winter are worse than those which occur during the summer. Things like hypothermia, frigid temperatures, arctic winds, ice, snow, freezing drinking water, winter allergies, matted fur, ice packed paws, and lack of adequate shelter are just a few examples of situations which can be prevented through knowledge of winter health issues for dogs and other animals.
Being aware of the symptoms of winter allergies in dogs can easily prevent allergy severity from arising, even though most pet owners do not recognize it as a winter health problem. The article, Winter Allergies: Winter Health Issues for Dogs, offers some prime information about winter allergies in dogs, while Winter Dehydration is an upcoming Part II — another serious winter health issue for dogs.
Winter allergies are worse than during any other time of the year for a couple of good reasons, all based on the fact pets spend more time inside than outside in bad weather. This brings about more allergies because homes are more closed up with less fresh air.
Things like cleaning out the furnace filter and keeping the humidity below 40% helps lower the breeding of allergens. Humidifiers should be cleaned out at least once a week to prevent mold contamination in addition to gathering allergens.
WINTER PET ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
The FACE (muzzle, chin, and eyes) is red with hair loss around the eyes and the nose will run with heavy discharges. Sneezing may occur.
The EARS are red with a waxy drainage that has a bad odor.
The SKIN appears red with possible crusts and scales on it. Secondary skin infections may develop with strong odors to it. Areas of the belly, groin, and elbows may cause intense itching, causing massive scratching.
- The FEET may develop intense itching, redness, inflamation — brown discoloration of areas which are continuously licked and scratched due to itching and burning.
- The FUR of the dog may develop bald spots and brown discoloration due to licking and scratching. The face may be rubbed on furniture and the floor, or the sides and belly of the dog because of itching fur.
- Severe allergies and high levels of hypertensity may develop into Anaphylactic Shock, with signs of diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, difficulty in breathing, collapsing, and eventual death unless treatment is sought from a vet.
TREATMENTS FOR WINTER ALLERGIES IN DOGS
Dogs with allergies are irritable and have a tendency to snap, more or less making them very miserable and unpleasant to be around. But pet owners need to recognize that a dog needs to be exposed to an allergen twice or more before it will become allergic, with the severity depending on the dog’s genetics and breed.
In dogs, the allergen is found mainly in the skin scales and the saliva. The first time the dog is exposed to the allergen, their immune system manufactures antibodies in the dog’s body to the allergen. The following exposure triggers an allergen-antibody reaction which releases histamine — a chemical mediator which is responsible for the allergic reaction in the dog.
Lemon systemic on both sides of the dog’s body are an additional support allergy treatment, followed by two weeks of yellow systemic to the front and another two weeks of orange systemic to the front.
Biotin is considered one of the B vitamins with recent studies showing that dogs suffering from dry skin, seborrhea, and dry, itchy allergic skin greatly improved when supplemented daily with biotin.
Biotin is often used in combination with fatty acids to treat dogs with allergies. Biotin is very safe and there are no side effects or toxicities. Biotin may be found as a supplemental powder containing just biotin, or as a supplement such as brewers yeast, which contains other ingredients.
Steroid usage is a hot topic for everyone, whether for people or animals, and very little is good unless someone who has suffered greatly had their symptoms relieved from it.
Using it correctly, steroids relieve severe itching and inflammation. Unfortunately, it has short and long-term side effects when improperly used or for an incorrect diagnosis. For this reason, it has not been used when maybe it should have been to quickly relieve pain and suffering for an animal with severe allergies. Drugs can be used properly and improperly, with animal steroids (corticosteroids) reserved as the last line of allergy treatment at the lowest effective dose in injectable or tablet form.
Treatments in Fur Management
The average dog sheds every three to four days, while those dogs who are supposed to produce less pet allergy symptoms (such as poodles, schnauzers, and airedales) still shed once every 21 days.
Brushing, vacuuming and cleaning out the furnace filter routinely will get rid of the majority of the fur and skin debris. Vacuum and then remove the bag instantly outside also helps.