Fido is happy that spring has sprung, and he’s itching to go outside and have fun.  If Fido is a member of your family, you may have noticed that he is itching in other ways, too.  Increased head shaking, paw licking, and general scratching may be signs that flowers are blooming.

Allergies in pets can stem from multiple sources.  Two of the most common culprits, inhaled allergens and food, have many symptoms in common.  Itching is a hallmark sign, and the areas most affected are paws and ears, although many dogs suffer from itchy legs, faces, and bodies, too.

Inhalant allergies are also known as atopy.  They are triggered by environmental factors and are typically seasonal.  Atopy often flares up in spring, although some pets do not show symptoms until later in summer or fall.  Some pets even itch in the winter.  The seasonality depends on what the pet is allergic to, and when it is in the environment.

Most flowers blossom for two or three weeks.  If this bloom is Fido’s only allergy, then his “itch season” is brief.  However, many pets are allergic to multiple environmental stimuli, and as one flower fades, another comes into season, extending the misery for Fido.

Although usually associated with flower season, atopy can affect pets during winter, too.  If the allergen is found in the pet’s home, then paw licking, leg chewing, and head shaking may continue year-round.  A common source of year-round atopy is dust mites.  These are found in every home, even those with impeccable cleanliness.

Atopic pets are often miserable when their itch flares up.  Although their allergy is caused by the world around them, a lot can be done to help your furry friend feel better.

Ideally, the sources of the allergy should be removed.  Unfortunately, this is not usually possible if the sources are common trees or flowers in your region.  If your pet is allergic to dust mites, steps can be taken to reduce the mite allergen in your home, but it is impossible to completely remove them.

Fortunately for Fido, there are several newer medicines available to address itching – whether it’s ears, feet, or overall body scratching that vexes your pooch.  Of significance is an injection that specifically addresses atopy – the environmental or inhalant allergy seen commonly at this time of year.  This immunomodulator is a godsend for dogs that itch and scratch through flower season.  It’s a godsend for their owners, too, whose sleep is disrupted by hearing their restless dog constantly lap his paws, shake his head, or chew his legs and sides.

If you think your dog is suffering from spring allergies, ask your veterinarian if this immunomodulator injection is available at their office for your Fido.  One injection typically provides relief for one to two months.  Pet owners are often ecstatic about the dramatic results.

Despite the wonder drugs available to stop spring itch, specific attention may initially be needed for sore, inflamed ears or skin.

Itchy ears are uncomfortable for pets, but fortunately, treatments are available to provide relief.  It is important to address uncomfortable ears promptly, as they can progress to more serious problems if unattended.  Bacteria and yeast overgrow in swollen ear canals.  Fido may shake his head, rub his ears on the floor, or groan when you pat his head.  You may notice dark discharge or odor coming from his ears.

If untreated, itchy ears may progress to ruptured eardrums and middle ear infections.  Some dogs will shake their head so violently that their ears swell like blood-filled balloons.  These are called aural hematomas and require surgery.

Because numerous medical conditions can cause itchy ears, examining the pet is very important.  Even recurrent ear infections warrant rechecking the ear canal and ear drum.  Atopic itchy ears can be soothed with topical medicine, but owners should be aware that the problem often recurs.

Many dogs with inhalant allergies suffer from itchy paws.  These dogs may lick at their feet excessively, disrupting not only their sleep but that of their owners.  You may notice that your little white dog has reddish-brown stains on his paws from saliva.  This is a classic sign of itchy feet and allergies.  Ironically, protecting the feet with booties doesn’t help, as the itch starts from allergies inside the body.  Appropriately treating Fido’s allergies will help his feet feel better.

For some dogs, the itch isn’t limited to ears or paws.  Allergies sometimes trigger dogs to scratch all over.  Many develop pyoderma, or bacterial skin infections.  These dogs benefit from antibiotics, in addition to addressing the underlying allergy.  Bathing with appropriate shampoo may also give your pet some relief.

Don’t let pet allergies dampen your fun this spring.  Ask your veterinarian for help, so that you and your furry friend can enjoy the season together.