AURORA, Colo. - At Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital in Colorado, more than 50 percent of dogs who come through the doors suffer from allergies.
"It's actually an incredibly common thing this time of year," said Matthew Demey, DVM. "It's just like hay fever in people. They can be allergic to any airborne allergens."
In Colorado, ragweed is a common trigger for animals, but other regions may have other allergens. You may not notice right away, but there are tell-tale signs your furry friend should get checked out.
"They can start licking their feet, shaking their head, and scratching ears is a big one," said Demey. "Anywhere they are itchy or scratchy are the big signs we see."
In animals, untreated allergies can actually lead to serious infections.
"You sneeze, your eyes water and itch. Dogs get that same histamine release, but it's in their skin," said Demey. "So their skin gets inflamed. When it becomes inflamed, it breaks down that normal barrier to infection and that bacterium and yeast can take hold and start multiplying."
Veterinarians can test pets for 20 or 30 allergens at a time.
"We shave the hair on their side and then we just the same thing we do with us," said Demey. "Draw a grid and inject allergens in small amounts. The ones the dogs overreact to are the ones they are allergic to."
Treatments range from specially-made serums to oral pills and shampoos. Allergies cannot be cured, but they can be managed.
"There's a lot of doctor Google recommendations, but the best advice you're going to get is from calling your veterinarian," said Demey.
Fall and spring are the worst seasons for pets who have outdoor allergies. Some struggle year-round with indoor allergens or food sensitivities.