Allergies are a huge topic when it comes to Ryder. It took us a good while to figure out what was triggering his chronic ear infections. Little did I know, my dog has allergies.
We have been battling his food and environmental allergies for a couple years now. Needless to say, allergies are a crucial component of your dog health. So, this article will fit in just right for our Dog Health theme this month.
We have a wonderful guest here today to talk to us about dogs with allergies. I would like to welcome the lovely Gayle M. Irwin. She is a super special lady, as you are soon to find out! She also has a very prestigious background when it comes to writing about pups. Don’t forget to check out her bio at the end of the post. Gayle is here today to tell you a little bit of her story with Mary.
Pets Can Have Allergies, Too
Spring is coming, a time when people’s allergies flare due to grasses, flowers, and other plants in bloom. People can also be allergic to food, such as peanuts, mushrooms, and shellfish. Did you know pets can have allergies, too? And, not only to food, but to things in the environment?
Many pet owners are concerned about corn in pet food products; some even stay away from all grain products in pet food. “Grain-free” feeding is popular, but it may not be wheat or corn to which your pet is allergic; other foods like soy or beef can be the culprit. Environmental allergens, such as pollen, fungus, even bugs can also cause your dog or cat problems.
Our Dog’s Allergies
When my husband and I adopted Mary, a springer/cocker mix, five years ago, we were told by the rescue organization’s adoptive representative that Mary most likely had an allergy. Her foster mom, to be proactive, fed her a grain-free, salmon dog food. Mary didn’t seem fond of the food so when we brought her home, we put her on a grain-free venison product. However, her allergy situation didn’t abate, so our vet recommended we test Mary to be sure as to what she’s allergic to so that we weren’t guessing as to the type of food to feed her.
We received the results of her allergy test, and, to our delight, Mary had only four food allergies (one being salmon – the others were corn, white potatoes, and flax). To our dismay, her primary problems were environmental. Among MANY other things, the test indicated Mary was allergic to five types of grasses, a plethora of weeds (such as ragweed and lambs quarter), several trees (including elm and maple), mosquitoes, feathers, and cotton. So, like many people, Mary receives a daily pill and undergoes injections.
Three years later, we had her tested again. The items to which she was allergic now give her no trouble; instead, new types of allergens appeared (the vet uses a different system than in 2013), and her allergies still include several environmental things as well as milk and beef. I don’t quite understand how she can go from a salmon allergy to a beef allergy, especially since I mostly feed her chicken or turkey meals, but the tests indicate what they indicate.
I’m glad we pursued the tests to learn to what she’s allergic. I never would have guessed my dog would be allergic to our elm tree in the backyard and the cotton towels used for baths. My husband and I are committed to helping Mary endure these goofy allergies. Though we won’t cut down our elm tree, I found some non-cotton towels (which I even take to the groomer!), and I vow to continue feeding her food with only chicken, turkey, or duck.
If your dog licks its feet or gets dry skin and/or ear infections frequently, make a veterinary appointment and have it tested for allergies. Between toxins on lawns, pollutants in the air, and weirdly-named products in pet food, our furry friends can develop allergies, just like humans. I never experienced allergies until moving to Wyoming in my middle-aged years. I’ve found I’m allergic to sage and rabbit brush, which grow almost everywhere in the state! Therefore, I take allergy medication and do other preventatives to try to keep my sinuses clearer … but, like Mary, I suffer from chronic infections – mine is nasal, hers are the ears. Between the two of us, medical expenses can run a bit high, but for us to feel better, my husband and I do what must be done.
Just like people can experience and then solve their allergy problems, so, too, can we discover and solve our pet’s discomfort. Some experts estimate more than 30 percent of pets’ skin irritations can be attributed to allergies. If your pet’s feet are discolored, they scratch their ears a lot, or have bald spots on the skin, talk with your vet and consider having an allergy test run.
As pet owners, we are responsible for the health of our furry companions. The initial outlay for allergy testing can be a bit startling, but when you break it down as I did as a per month cost, it’s essentially one daily Starbucks. I can give up gourmet coffee with whipped cream to keep my pet healthy and happy and safely in my home – I’ll enjoy an extra cup of java at home with my beloved animals instead of going to the drive-through!
Many people are allergic to the dander found on pets; many of us know the heartbreak of discovering someone in the family is allergic to the household pet. Numerous people give up the beloved dog or cat, while others take steps to delineate the allergens – from thorough cleanings and keeping the pet from the bedroom to taking allergy injections. Before giving up your pet because of dander allergies, research ways to keep the dander down and to deal with the allergy, just as you would cope with allergies to pollen or dust. Read more about controlling allergies to animals by visiting these websites:
Writer/Author Bio: Gayle M. Irwin
A writer of inspirational pet stories, Gayle M. Irwin has been published in seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the 2017 release The Dog Really Did That? She is the author of several pet books for children and adults, including two books about Mary. She’s contributed pet columns for newspapers and magazines, and currently writes short stories for Colorado’s Prairie Times. She also maintains a weekly pet blog on her website and produces a monthly newsletter for pet parents. Her passion for writing stories parallels her passion for pet rescue and adoption. She supports various animal rescue organizations with contributions from her book sales as well as volunteering as a transporter. Gayle, her husband, and their four rescue pets live in Wyoming. Visit her website to learn more, to follow her blog, and to sign up for her free newsletter: www.gaylemirwin.com.