How to Cope with Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

 

It’s common for dogs to scratch themselves, but what causes the itch? There can be any number of culprits, from shedding to fleas to allergies. The itching can be quite uncomfortable, leading to obsessive licking and scratching which can then lead to further skin irritation and even infection.

Determine the Cause of the Itch

If it seems that a dog might have an allergy, there are a number of factors to consider. Seasonal allergies manifest in the dog’s skin, as opposed to the respiratory symptoms humans usually experience. Think about the time of year – if it seems that many people are being affected by traditionally seasonal allergies, there is a good chance a dog might be experiencing the same thing.

Local weather forecasts often include pollen activity, and can be a helpful resource in tracking and predicting the intensity of allergies. Most can also show what kind of pollen is particularly active – tree pollen tends to develop in the spring first, followed by grass.

Veterinarians can pinpoint causes of allergies by running various tests, which can be costly but potentially faster than trial-and-error.

Treating the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

If the cause of a dog’s allergies is known, limit the exposure to the allergen. In most cases, it might not be possible to determine the exact cause. Treating the symptoms can relieve discomfort and lessen the likelihood that the dog will scratch the skin raw and develop an infection.

 

Pet stores may carry a variety of remedies, some containing fish oils and other ingredients to increase moisture in the skin and coat, others containing antihistamines. Chewable tablets, topical ointments and sprays, and pills provide many options for finding the easiest way for the dog to take the treatment.

For severe symptoms, consult a vet. A vet can prescribe medication to treat the allergy as well as an infection if one is present. They can also suggest giving a dog an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benedryl. The general rule is one milligram per pound of the dog’s weight, but be sure to consult a veterinarian before giving a dog Benedryl.

Being Supportive of a Dog with Allergies

A dog will attempt to hide its discomfort, and the owner must pay close attention to any behavior changes beyond scratching a licking – lower levels of playfulness, increased sleepiness, and decreased appetite can all be indicative that something is wrong with the dog. It’s important for the owner to be in tune with the dog to determine how to help and prevent further discomfort or potential infections.

Allergies can be heightened while a dog is shedding, and regular brushing can help by providing itch relief and removing excess fur. The ears are often prone to the most itchiness as well as moisture, so careful attention must be paid to the ears especially.

If possible, try to keep the dog from scratching too often. An e-collar can be effective, but can put the dog into a depressed mood and should therefore be used sparingly if needed.

Above all, be patient. Allergies can be annoying for humans and dogs alike, and take awhile to get over. A dog will look for comfort from its owner – be patient and the allergy symptoms will pass.

Plants that Poison Dogs: Trees and Flowers to Avoid Planting in a Dog-Friendly Garden

 

Dogs and gardens don’t combine well. Any animal will use the garden as a litter box, dig in it or bury things from bones to toys. However, dogs, especially when they’re puppies or a larger breed, are more likely to wreak havoc with attempts to seed a plot of land.

Establishing a fenced off area and keeping the garden to vegetables, apart from onions, or wild flowers is best. Put tomato plants out of reach. Plant strawberries or raspberries in the front yard if the dog’s run and bathroom area is in the back yard.

Most important, however, is steering clear of planting anything, whether flower, shrub or tree, that can potentially do the dog harm. If one chooses to have a dog, its health and life is more important than a diverse and flourishing garden.

Bulbs

The bulb part of these flowers is especially poisonous to dogs. If the dog digs and likes to chew on what it finds beneath the earth, don’t plant: crocuses, irises, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and lily of the valley, among others. Bulbs can cause nausea, vomiting, tumors, depression, spasms and sometimes death.

 

Ferns

While often grown in pots out of reach of canines, when planted in the earth the leaves and particularly the berries are poisonous to dogs. The asparagus, lace and plumosa fern are problematic plants in this category.

Flowering Plants

Cyclamens and hydrangeas are very dangerous for dogs. While their beautiful blooms are popular with gardeners, a dog that decides to munch on one is risking its life. They both create gastrointestinal upsets and the cyclamen causes death.

Garden Perennials

Whether grown as a potted plant in the house or, in temperate climates, planted in the yard, these blooms can be deadly. Among the worst offenders for canine distress are the foxglove, morning glory, nightshade and the Christmas Rose. Consumption of these flowers will cause the dog to develop a burning mouth, pain, vomiting, depression, confusion and even hallucinations.

Shrubs

These plants, often used as hedges or borders for the garden are among the most deadly for dogs. Bamboo, holly, oleander, rhodedendron, yucca and the mistletoe cause seizures, stomach problems, drooling, trembling, depression and death.

Lilies and Succulents

Usually only cats have problems with these plants, but the glory lily and the popular aloe cause liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal upsets, irritation and bone marrow suppression.

Trees

Many trees, if the dog gnaws on the bark or consumes the berries, can cause health issues. Trees like the Japanese Yew, the Macadamia Nut, the Buddhist pine and the Avocado tree give the dog a burning mouth, vomiting, spasms, congestion and heart failure.

Vines

All of these are toxic, and especially the foliage of these climbing plants including the English, Needlepoint and Branching ivy. Keep them trimmed above the dog’s reach to avoid giving the canine symptoms such as fever, dilated pupils, diarrhea and muscle weakness.

Pay attention to what is planted in the garden and prioritize the dog’s well being over a selection of the most exotic or attractive flowers and trees.

dog bowls

Choosing a Labrador: Guidelines When Buying a Lab

 

Labradors are among the most popular family dogs in the United States, with good reason. Generally they have placid dispositions, are easily trainable, have soft mouths and are gentle with children. A labrador makes a very loyal companion. When a family is choosing a Labrador, two considerations become paramount: the reputation of the breeder and the characteristics of the puppy. It is wise to choose a Labrador breeder first and then the puppy.

Choosing a Labrador Breeder

The standing and reputation of the breeder who is selling the puppies is very important. This is because the more dedicated and committed the breeder, the better the chances are that the family will buy a healthy puppy with a suitable disposition. Choose the breeder first and then the puppy. In most cases, the indications of a good breeder are:

  • An authentic breeder will be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) which was founded in Philadelphia in 1884 (registration of a puppy with the AKC is not a guarantee of the puppy’s quality, it just means that the ancestry of the dog is recorded with the AKC).
  • A caring breeder will keep the puppies in the home, not in a run.
  • A thoughtful breeder will not breed with the dam (the mother) at every opportunity (an indication the profit may be the main motive) – he will give her a break between litters.
  • A diligent breeder will have available for inspection important health certificates for the puppies, their parents and grandparents. These will include health certificates covering hip dysplasia and eye conditions.
  • A breeder with a good reputation will keep a record of interested buyers and also run a waiting list.
  • A successful breeder will be happy to give references and the telephone numbers of people who have bought puppies from him or her in the past..
  • A loving breeder handles the puppies often and socializes them.
  • A conscientious breeder makes sure the puppies have had all their shots and have been de-wormed.
  • A responsible breeder will not allow a puppy to be taken away until it is 6 to 7 weeks old.
  • A well established breeder will come with the recommendation of the family vet and the local labrador club.

Choosing a Labrador Puppy

Once the family purchasing the Lab is happy with the breeder, it is time to choose the puppy. The following considerations may help the family make a final decision.

  • The family should use common sense when assessing the general condition of the puppy. Are the eyes free from any discharge? Does the puppy’s coat look and feel healthy? Are the ears free of unpleasant odor? Ultimately these are issues for a Vet to consider but this does not mean that the family should not be on the lookout for these signs of a possible problem.
  • Has the puppy had all the required shots? The Vet can explain what is necessary.
  • Has the puppy got all the essential clearance certificates covering hip dysplasia and eye conditions and are these same certificates available for the puppy’s parents and grandparents? Apparently it is only after 2 years that hip problems may become manifest.
  • How do the puppies relate to strangers? An opinion on the internet is that if the puppy rushes to meet the family it could mean that the puppy may be aggressive. This is a question to ask the Vet as the logic of this observation is not immediately clear.
  • How does the puppy react when picked up by a young child?
  • How does the puppy respond to sudden sounds like a hand clap or the jingle of car keys falling on a hard floor?
  • What kind of personality does the puppy have? The breeder should be able to help with this question particularly if the puppies have lived in the breeder’s house from birth and have been handled often.. Temperament is important: a lively puppy will be more suitable for a family with equally lively young children than a laid back puppy which would fit in better as a family pet for senior citizens.

Choosing a Labrador is Like Adopting a New Family Member

When the new Labrador puppy arrives it is just as if a new family member has been adopted. Almost without exception a loyal friend and companion will have come to stay with the family. As the lab’s muzzle turns silver with the passing of the years the family will realize how privileged they were to have known and been loved by such a devoted friend.