Spring is in the air – and so are seasonal allergies. Just like humans, your dog can suffer from them.
A dog’s allergy symptoms are generally similar to those experienced by people: the immune system overreacts to one or more offending substances, leading to itchiness and irritation. Your Boxer may lick or scratch themselves, develop irritated eyes, or sneeze repeatedly. Some dogs experience itchy, swollen skin and paws, while others suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.
Here are some steps you can take to control any discomfort your dog may be dealing with due to seasonal allergies and reduce the risk of more serious problems.
ADAPT YOUR DAILY WALK ROUTINE
If possible, avoid walking your dog in the early morning or late afternoon, when pollen levels are typically highest. This can be challenging when the days start to get hot, so always be sure your pet stays hydrated and that the cement isn’t too hot for their paws if you go later in the day. Steer clear of fields and parks where offending plants are common.
When you return home, wipe your dog’s body and paws with a moist cloth or a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe from your local pet store. Pay special attention to the paws, as the sensitive skin here is often affected by allergens. If your Boxer won’t stop licking their paws or the skin between the toes seems red and irritated, try dipping their paws in a mild homemade solution of white, unflavored vinegar diluted with an equal amount of water. This can help reduce redness and inflammation and has no harmful side effects.
CLEAR THE AIR AND OTHER SURFACES
Inside your home, regularly change air filters to cut down on airborne allergens that enter through open doors and windows. Running an air conditioner or a dehumidifier will help remove moisture from interior air, making it harder for mold to grow in your home. Vacuum at least once a week and regularly clean curtains and rugs that may have picked up dust and pollen or dander from other pets.
DON’T SLEEP ON IT
The surfaces your dog comes in contact with at bedtime can become covered in allergens from the air or that they track inside, so make sure they’re kept clean by being washed in hot water every week. Consider putting towels or blankets on top of beds (yours and theirs) and chairs to make this task easier and to keep offending substances away from the surface underneath.
JUMP IN THE BATH
Prevent dry, itchy skin by giving your Boxer a bath on a regular basis. If you’re unsure how often you should bathe your dog, or your dog has underlying health issues, always check with your vet first. Wash their fur with a gentle, hypoallergenic anti-itch shampoo that contains a soothing ingredient such as oatmeal, aloe, or evening primrose oil. Be sure to dry them thoroughly with a clean, warm towel so they don’t catch a chill.
SUPPLEMENT YOUR DOG’S DIET
Try giving your dog a natural dietary supplement such as fish oil, or a fatty acid such as omega-3 or omega-6 oil to reduce itchiness and improve overall skin health. Coconut oil has also been shown to suppress allergic reactions while contributing to healthier skin and is readily available in most grocery stores. You can also find solutions made especially for dogs at many pet stores now. Finally, make sure your dog’s drinking water and food bowl are kept clean and free of any contaminants by washing them after each meal or each time you refill the water dish.
If your Boxer won’t stop licking, scratching, and chewing, has red and irritated skin or hair loss, make an appointment to see your vet. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, a professional can provide more aggressive treatments such as antihistamines, steroids, or allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. Your vet may also prescribe Benadryl for your dog to take each day to reduce inflammation.
While there’s a lot you and your veterinarian can do for your dog to alleviate their suffering from seasonal allergies, there’s no miracle cure. However, with some simple steps, they can be managed.