Keeping Your Dog Exercised and Energized in the Face of Seasonal Allergies
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on April 14, 2018
Posted in Dog Skin Allergies
On days when the pollen count is high or there’s a strong wind whipping up the ragweed, we tend to stay indoors, away from the histamines. Anyone with allergies knows how miserable you can begin to feel in mere minutes when you’re forced outside during peak allergy season. Unfortunately, the same is true for your dog if he/she suffers from seasonal allergies.
In fact, things are even worse for your pup if they have allergies! Not only do they have to venture outside each time they need to go to the bathroom, they’re also going to be subjected to allergens when you take them on a walk or out to socialize at the park. Just like you, they’re liable to start itching, sneezing and coughing after just a short time outside.
Sure, you can keep your pooch indoors with the windows closed and an air purifier on. But while this offers relief from allergies, it can also make your dog stir crazy! For especially energetic breeds—like huskies, collies, pointers and shepherds—it can even incite bad behavior when your dog becomes bored or temperamental. Needless to say, they’re going to need some exercise.
So how, exactly, do you get your dog the exercise it demands, while also protecting them from heavy allergies? Take a look at a few of the options available to you:
- Take your pup to an indoor dog run or doggy daycare center. Not only does this give your pup a chance to frolic freely without inhaling a snout full of allergens, it’s also a great way to socialize them. Your dog will burn off a ton of pent-up energy racing around the indoor facilities, while interacting with friends. Thanks to the heavy-duty HVAC of most commercial facilities, the indoor air should be relatively free of anything that might aggravate your dog’s allergies.
- You may not like it, but your dog will love zooming around outside after a light rain or in the early morning dew. Moisture will keep allergens at low levels, since most are associated with dust and other airborne particulates. Taking your dog out for exercise when the ground is damp is a good way to let them enjoy the outdoors without kicking up allergens as they run and roll around. Just remember to give them a light bath afterwards!
- You may not be able to control the allergen levels in the air, but you can control the supplements your dog takes to combat them. Many dog allergies are dermatological—meaning your dog’s skin will become dry, flaky and cracked. Giving them natural dietary supplements aimed at minimizing skin irritation is a great way to offer them some much-needed relief when allergies are simply unavoidable during peak months.
- Try to plan your dog’s outdoor activities around the ebb and flow of histamines. There are often allergy counts available for your general area, with predictions about a week ahead. If your dog has a severe allergy to pollen, for example, you can plan outdoor vs. indoor activities based on the prediction schedule. It’s not a perfect science, but it can certainly help you get a sense for what days might be the best or worst for your pup!
- Talk to your vet about allergy medications for your dog. These can be hit or miss depending on the breed and the type of allergy they suffer from, but there’s a chance a simple prescription could help your dog during the worst months of the year. In extreme cases, steroids could be the answer, but these are usually prescribed in severe situations in which your dog’s quality of life may be dramatically affected by unbearable allergies.
- Regular baths with medicated or gentle shampoos, as well as grooming, can do wonders for your dog. A little TLC can go a long way as allergens are combed out of your pup’s fur and washed away from their skin, leaving behind a fresh feeling that won’t leave them miserable long after allergy counts have dropped.
Allergies have a nasty habit of creeping back into the picture as soon as warmer, more pleasant weather does. Don’t let them deter you and your dog from enjoying the spring and summer months of the year! Instead, outwit allergies by following some of the simple tips above. Your dog will get the energy it needs, without having to suffer through the dry skin, coughing, sneezing and watery eyes that are the hallmarks of seasonal allergies.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan