MADISON, WI – Ah, springtime! The flowers are in bloom, the leaves in the trees are budding, and all of nature seems lush and fresh! For many, it’s their favorite time of the year. For others, it’s simply horrible. Seasonal allergy suffers are subjected to pollen from grass, weeds, flowers and trees. It’s inescapable. And it’s miserable.
Humans can, however, curb their contact with allergens in obvious ways like staying indoors. They can also take daily medication to help combat the annual symptoms. Easy enough. But what about dogs? While not as prevalent with dogs as with humans, they can suffer from seasonal allergies, too.
Unlike humans, dogs must venture outdoors several times a day, each time exposing them to the pollens that unwittingly make them suffer. And they don’t have an effective way to communicate their discomfort, so it’s up to dog parents to watch for telltale signs. These can include sneezing, occasional dramatic inhales through the nose, difficulty breathing, increased paw licking, and excessive scratching.
“Increased scratching, especially around the face and abdomen, is generally one of the first indicators your dog has allergies,” says Lis De Souza, owner of both Serenity Pet Salon & Spas in Madison. “This can lead to further problems like hair loss and creating open wounds.”
So what can humans do to help alleviate allergy symptoms in their dogs? Since dirt, bacteria, and allergens get trapped in a dog’s coat that can cause rashes and skin conditions, it is highly advisable to keep your animal clean.
“When people hear this, though, they immediately think to give their dog frequent baths,” says De Souza. “While that can be affective, many owners will use inadequate shampoos or bathe their dogs too often, both of which can lead to further issues like dry skin.”
De Souza warns against using products meant for humans on a dog. She recommends consulting with your groomer or vet about shampoos that will be most beneficial to your pet.
“To combat itchy skin, I also highly recommend microbubble baths,” she says.
At Serenity Pet Spa and Salon, De Souza and her groomers use the Thera-Clean Microbubble System which gently removes trapped debris and allergens to prevent itching without the use of soaps, chemicals or abrasives. It uses tap water and millions of penetrating bubbles to give the deepest possible cleaning that chronic skin conditions need before they can heal.
“The Microbubble System is a game-changer,” says De Souza. “It gets to the root of the allergy problem very humanely and gently. Our clients – human and otherwise – are impressed by the results. We’ve seen so many dogs’ skin conditions disappear after just a few scheduled treatments.” At present time, Serenity Pet Spa and Salon is the only operation in the Madison area that utilizes the Thera-Clean Microbubble System.
De Souza says there are other things owners can do to help their pups through the allergy season. She says bathing is one way to go, but again warns against some products and overdoing the frequency of the baths.
“Another simple thing pet parents can do it wipe the dog’s coat and paws with a cool, damp towel after it has been outside,” she says. “This way you’re removing a lot of pollens before they get into your home.”
De Souza also recommends keeping your home clean, especially rugs and pet bedding. If central air is an option, use it as opposed to opening windows on warm days, and replace your A/C filters as needed. She also reminds owners that providing a healthy diet can help a dog’s natural immune system fight back against seasonal allergies.
“Of course, you can also get medication from your vet,” she says. “Just use some caution here; some antihistamines are toxic to dogs, so make sure your meds are vet approved.”