What are Ragweed Allergies?
There are a number of allergens to be found outside in the grass and in the air. Dogs can be affected by them just like humans can. While we can usually treat ourselves, dogs aren’t quite as capable. Diagnosis of the correct allergy in your dog can be a long process but worth restoring his health. Symptoms are typically mild and treatment is about control of the symptoms. While some dogs may suffer more severe symptoms than others, they usually recover well and return to their normal selves with proper treatment or once the allergen is out of the environment.
Dogs can suffer from allergies just like people. If you believe your dog may be suffering from allergies, discuss it with your veterinarian in order to provide your pet with relief from the irritating symptoms.
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Symptoms of Ragweed Allergies in Dogs
Allergy symptoms can vary from dog to dog. Symptoms of ragweed allergies may include:
- Itchy skin
- Dry, flaky skin
- Hair loss
- Chronic ear infections
- Obsessive licking/chewing of feet
- Inflamed, red paw pads
- Runny nose
Ragweed belongs to the Asteraceae family and the genus Ambrosia. It can be considered one of the largest causes of seasonal allergies in North America. There are about 17 different species of ragweed all varying in size and leaf count, and can be found in many different regions.
Causes of Ragweed Allergies in Dogs
- Ragweed will cause distressing issues for your pet
- Ragweed allergies intensify by season
- The ragweed affects your pet's environment and it may be difficult to conquer the allergy
Diagnosis of Ragweed Allergies in Dogs
When you meet with the veterinarian, she will take note of your dog’s symptoms and collect a history of when they started and if anything changed in his environment or life right before they started. If your dog is experiencing any coughing or wheezing, she may want to take a radiograph to get an internal look of the lungs. This will help rule out pneumonia, bronchitis, or any other respiratory related illness. If your dog’s skin is irritated, oozing, or a rash has developed, the veterinarian may take a skin scraping to check for external parasites or bacterial overgrowth. If your dog is experiencing watery eyes, the veterinarian may perform fluorescein staining to check for a scratch on the eye or check his tear production level; both of which could be an alternative cause of the watering.
Blood work will be performed to allow the veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s red blood cell levels, white blood cell levels, and the enzyme levels of the kidneys and liver. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. If she needs additional information neither of these tests provide, she may perform a urinalysis or a more detailed blood panel
With contact or inhaled allergies, you can also perform allergy tests. One test is called intradermal testing. This involves injecting the skin with the suspected allergen and waiting to see if an allergic response occurs. There is another allergy test that involves taking a blood sample and sending it off to a special lab for them to test it. With this test, they can determine what objects your dog is allergic to and how severe. While this test sounds the easiest, it can be expensive.
Treatment of Ragweed Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is experiencing extreme itching and scratching, the veterinarian may administer a prescription to help with this. This medication will help for a while, but in reality, it is only masking the symptom, not curing it. If you do not remove the source of his itching, you will have to continue to give the prescription and possibly continuously increase the dose as time goes on. This will cause your dog’s immune system to be suppressed and increase his risk of a more serious illness. However, in this case it is basically impossible to remove ragweed from your dog’s environment so other options may need to be explored.
Once your dog is successfully diagnosed, a treatment plan can be put into place. For the more severe cases, there is a company that creates allergy shots or a serum you put under your dog’s tongue to help with his allergies. This is expensive, but for many owners it is worth the cost since it is the only way their dog gets relief.
You can also discuss giving your dog an antihistamine you can find over the counter. This is an affordable treatment that you can give according to your dog’s needs without any severe negative side effects. There are also some types of human allergy medicines that can be safely given to your dog. However, discuss it with your veterinarian before you give him any.
Recovery of Ragweed Allergies in Dogs
Once your dog is successfully diagnosed with an allergy, he will be easier to treat. Without knowing the cause of the symptoms, it is impossible to know what to keep him away from or how to help him. Once you know the allergen, you can begin to successfully treat your dog. The recovery process can be very time consuming and discouraging, but once you find the source, it will be worth the effort. In addition, measures such as wiping down your pet's fur when he comes indoors, limiting his outdoor exposure on days where the allergy alerts are high, and working together with your veterinarian will be important.
Ragweed Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Our dog starts scratching and biting her paws and losing hair behind her legs in the ragweed season; beginning late August and through to the end of September. We believe in a holistic approach and found that brewing green tea and applying to her skin 3 times per day helps immensely in keeping her more comfortable. We spray her down with water and wipe her paws after every walk as well. This is much safer for her immune system than a steroid and wanted to pass this information along. It really works!
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