My Dog Scratches – A LOT!

Since I knew very little about allergies in dogs, I took him to the veterinarian. The vet diagnosed a mild ear infection and prescribed Mometamax, which took care of the ear infection. However, the scratching continued. Kobe’s veterinarian felt strongly that my dog had allergies to pollens or other air allergens. The main indicators of allergies for Kobe were:

Licking or chewing on his paws. (His light-colored fur was even slightly stained on his paws, which I learned was from his saliva.)
Scratching – particularly his ears and under his front underarm areas
Treating Allergies in Dogs – Kobe’s veterinarian suggested a 2-part resolution:

I did some research and found the Omega-3 fatty acids work in the skin to help reduce the amount and effects of histamine and other chemicals that are released in response to allergies. Most pets need to be on the Omega-3 fatty acids daily for several weeks to months to notice significant improvement. Omega-3 fatty acids are very safe and have very few side effects.

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Over-the-counter antihistamines
Each dog reacts differently to over-the-counter medications for allergies. Kobe’s veterinarian explained that finding one that works is somewhat of a trial-and-error type process. He stressed that proper dosage and consistent frequency was important for it to be effective.Aller-ChlorI first tried Benadryl, following our veterinarian’s instructions to give it to Kobe three times per day. My not being home around the noon hour posed a problem with administering that third dose each day.

To get the relief he needed all 3 doses, so I switched him to non-prescription. I double-checked with one of our veterinarians on staff here at Drs. Foster and Smith, and he indicated that 2 doses per day would be appropriate for this medication. Although both products are antihistamines, they work very differently. Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, while Aller-color’s active ingredient is chlorpheniramine.

Antihistamines are widely used in both the human and animal medical fields. Most of the antihistamines used in veterinary medicine are antihistamines that were designed for and used primarily by humans. Antihistamines have been shown to be effective in controlling allergies in up to 30% of dogs and 70% of cats. When used as part of a treatment plan including fatty acids and avoidance, the percent of respondents goes much higher.

Every animal will respond differently to each of the different antihistamines. Therefore, several different antihistamines may have to be used before an effective one is found. Every antihistamine has a different dose and risk of side effects. Antihistamines should be used with veterinary guidance.

Some common side effects include sedation, hyperactivity, constipation, dry mouth, and decreased appetite. The correct antihistamine given at the proper dose should not cause unwanted side effects. For severely itchy dogs, mild sedation may be a positive and desired side effect.

I’m still in the trial-and-error phase, but it appears as if my dog is getting relief from his allergies. I also purchased some Itch Stop spray which seems to offer him some immediate, temporary relief. For more information on allergies in dogs (written by veterinarians), see Allergies & Atopy in Dogs.