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I have a 12-year-old pug who suffers from seasonal allergies, mostly skin issues.

Every September and May (sometimes extending into October and June), he ends up scratching himself to death. Once it hits his peak, we generally have to take him to the vet for steroids (which we want to avoid).

At home we try to treat him Benadryl, but that has become less effective over the years.

Short of keeping him inside, are there any alternative treatments we can consider to help relieve the itching, or help prevent his allergic symptoms?

  • same here, benadryl and vet visit is only thing that works. – ton.yeung Oct 9 '13 at 1:06
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After this allergy season, my vet offered a suggestion to help prevent the reaction. She suggested wiping the dog down after he comes inside. This will help remove the pollen that is clinging to his fur and not give it a chance to irritate the skin.

She suggested keeping a spray bottle of a vinegar/water solution near the door and immediately spray him down once he comes in, then pat him dry paper towels to remove the pollen. A clean towel will work too, but you don't want to reuse the same towel as you'll just be rubbing the pollen you removed earlier back onto the dog.

I can say this has worked yet since we haven't had an opportunity to try it, but it sounds promising and we plan on doing this next spring.

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Other than avoidance, there may be a few things you can do.

One thing that is sometimes recommended is oatmeal, similar to how it is recommended to relieve itching for humans with chicken pox. Grind it to a fine powder, and if the dog allows it, either soak the animal in water mixed with the oatmeal, or rub the animal down (gently!) with a damp cloth and some of the oatmeal.

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  • I have an oatmeal-based shampoo that I use to wash my dog who has skin issues. – JoshDM Oct 30 '13 at 3:14
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As an adjunct to the other answers, there are a few more things you can try.

  • Firstly maintain a flea free environment, a lot of dogs can have an allergic reaction to flea bites.

  • The usual advice, of keeping pets off grass and out of garden beds. There are certain plants that dog's are more prone to be allergic of than others. It's hard in a global community to address these specifically.

  • Antihistamines can be useful to relieve allergic reactions, and in some cases one of the side effects of antihistamines is drowsiness, which is not a bad thing, when a dog is being driven to distraction with itchiness. Sometimes it can be hard for the dog to get some good rest and a break from the itching. Having said this, I would not recommend dosing a dog with antihistamines, without seeing and taking the direction of a qualified veterinarian, as animals do not metabolize many over the counter medications as humans do. They are usually used as part of an overall treatment plan for helping dogs with allergies.

Antihistamines are useful in the management of some cases of atopy (atopic dermatitis). ... They vary greatly in their efficacy, dosage, side effects and cost. (1)

The bioavailability and receptor affinity of antihistamines in the dog and cat are often not known and as such dose rates recommended are often anecdotal. (2)

Side effects are uncommon with antihistamines but include sedation, constipation, dry gums and anxiety. (2)


References:

  • Antihistamines - Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital ingleburnvet.com.au (1)

  • Antihistamines in the dog and cat - Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre melbvet.com.au PDF (2)

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