Allergies are just as miserable for pets as they are for humans. The constant itching, scratching, paw licking, chewing, skin rashes or chronic ear infections that come with allergies can make life uncomfortable for canines. Treatment options can include antihistamines, immunotherapy and topical creams. There are several allergies that affect pets. Knowing the type of allergies a dog suffers from can help determine the best course of treatment. A visit to the vet is needed to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
In most cases, allergies show up in one of three ways:
SKIN: A dog will itch and scratch and may constantly chew and lick at his paws; he may develop skin sores or lesions.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: Symptoms include coughing, sneezing and wheezing, and may include nasal or eye discharge.
DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Vomiting or diarrhea may occur.
There are several types of dog allergies:
INHALANT (ATOPY) ALLERGY: The release of pollens in the air causes a dog with allergies to suffer, much as humans do. An allergic reaction to pollen can cause swelling and itching. A dog’s skin may become flaky and dry, and he may scratch the area excessively. The feet are especially sensitive, and licking or chewing to try to alleviate the itching may occur. Constant licking of the groin area, rubbing of the face, inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections, recurrent hot spots and sometimes respiratory problems, including wheezing and coughing, are all symptoms of this allergy. A dog that suffers from inhalant allergies should stay indoors as much as possible to limit contact with pollen.
FLEA ALLERGY: Fleas often re-emerge with a vengeance in the spring. If a dog is allergic to fleas, just one bite can cause severe itching and swelling of the affected area. A dog may scratch, lick or chew the bites, often resulting in open sores and loss of hair in that area. Flea treatments to the dog will kill the fleas; however, the home must be treated as well, as these pests can reside in the carpet and reinfect an animal upon contact.
CONTACT ALLERGY: This is a less common allergic reaction that happens when a pet comes into contact with certain materials such as carpets, cleaners and plastic. Symptoms of a contact allergy include red, itchy bumps or blisters on the belly, feet, or muzzle; intense scratching; and hair loss.
FOOD ALLERGY: Sometimes pet allergies can be caused by food. Symptoms include itching of the face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal areas; ear infections that are often yeast-related; and skin infections that may go away with antibiotics but then recur as soon as the antibiotic is completed. In some cases, dogs with true food allergies may have increased bowel movements and soft stool. A veterinarian can diagnose food allergies.
ARNO FUNDRAISER: A fundraising party benefiting Animal Rescue New Orleans will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at NOLA Made Gallery, 708 Toulouse St., New Orleans. The party is scheduled in connection with the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” Joe Cocker tribute concert that will take place that evening at One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St. For information, email adoptfrom firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADOPTION EVENT: Animal Rescue New Orleans will have adoptable dogs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Palmer Park Arts Market, South Claiborne and South Carrollton avenues, New Orleans. For information, email email@example.com.
RABIES VACCINATIONS AND MICROCHIPS: Jefferson Parish residents can have their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies for $15 and microchipped for free at 10 locations from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Cash only. Dogs must be on leashes, and cats must be in a carrier. This rabies vaccination clinic is made possible by the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, the Southeast Louisiana Veterinary Association and the Jefferson SPCA. For information, call (504) 736-6111, (504) 349-5111 or (504) 733-5878 or visit www.JeffersonSPCA.org.
The east bank locations are:
- Lakeshore Playground, 1125 Rosa Ave., Metairie
- Cleary Playground, 3700 Civic St., Metairie
- Jefferson Playground, 4100 South Drive, Jefferson
- Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie
- Muss Bertolino Playground, 600 W. Esplanade, Kenner
The West Bank locations are:
- Mel Ott Park, 2201 Belle Chase Highway, Gretna
- Harvey Fire Station, 1801 Gretna Blvd., Harvey
- Belle Terre Playground, 5600 Belle Terre Road, Marrero
- Westwego Park, 400 West Bank Expressway, Westwego
- Avondale Playground, 5709 S. Jamie Blvd., Avondale.
RABIES VACCINATIONS: Orleans Parish residents can have their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies for $15 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at any of nine fire houses. The vaccination clinic is sponsored by the Louisiana SPCA and the Southeast Louisiana Veterinary Association. Dogs must be on leashes, and cats must be in carriers or on leashes. For information, visit la-spca.org. The locations are:
- Engine 1 Fire House, 2920 Magazine St.
- Engine 12 Fire House, 5600 Franklin Ave.
- Engine 17 Fire House, 4115 Woodland Drive
- Engine 16 Fire House, 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
- Engine 24 Fire House, 1040 Poland Ave.
- Engine 25 Fire House, 2430 S. Carrollton Ave.
- Engine 27 Fire House, 2118 Elysian Fields Ave.
- Engine 35 Fire House, 964 N. Carrollton Ave.
- Engine 36 Fire House, 5403 Read Blvd.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Jefferson Parish, email email@example.com and bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@ gmail.com, www.animal rescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.