Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

May Newsletter

Seasonal Allergies

Finally, Spring is coming to Nebraska! The ice is melting, the days are getting warmer, and an end to the snow is in sight. Unfortunate, as spring approaches, you may have started sneezing, and now the family dog has started chewing his feet.

Why is that a sign of spring?

Because when your dog chews his feet, he most likely is exhibiting signs of seasonal allergies, or atopy. Like people with hay fever, pets in Nebraska will most commonly exhibit signs of allergies in March, April, and May, depending on the pollen or allergen present at these times. Unlike human hay fever, however, we are more likely to see skin problems than respiratory signs in dogs with inhaled seasonal allergies. A dog with allergies may sneeze and have runny eyes, but more commonly they will chew their feet, scratch their sides, be more sensitive to touch, and/or have recurrent ear infections.

Thatís right, ear infections. It is very important to remember that ear infections can be allergy related! The allergy increases inflammation in the ear canal, which makes the ear canal an ideal breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. Yeast and bacteria overgrowth cause itching, odor, and pain. If we notice you have been treating your dog frequently for ear infections during specific times of the year, we will often recommend treating a likely underlying allergy as well.

The same organisms that can infect the ear can also infect the skin on the rest of the body if your petís allergy is more severe. Signs of skin infection are similar to ear infection, including odor, pain, inflammation, itching. You may also see scaly and oily skin, and in severe cases, pigment change from chronic inflammation.

The severity of allergy dictates the type of treatment. To be honest, treating allergies can be very frustrating, and sometimes involves multiple medications. Mild allergies respond well to antihistamines, more severe require steroids. We will also often recommend ear drops if needed, oral antibiotics and/or antifungals (depending on the infection type), and medicated shampoos.

Our goal in seasonal allergy treatment is to make your pet as comfortable as possible when allergies flare up. While this newsletter has focused on spring allergies, it is important to remember that the same condition can occur in autumn, and often the same pets are affected.

If you are welcoming the spring this year with a feet-chewing, ear-scratching dog, please contact your veterinarian. Together we can look for the best treatment options to make your pet (and therefore you) more comfortable so you both can better enjoy this wonderful time of year.