Fighting Fall Allergies

By Katie West

Fall brings with it magnificent colors, cooler temperatures and for some of our canine friends, terrible seasonal allergies. Most people associate seasonal allergies with the springtime, when everything is in bloom, but fall is also allergy season. The allergens that commonly affect pets and people in autumn are molds (from decaying plant materials) and ragweed pollen.

"In early fall, it doesn't matter where you walk your dog or let her run, she's bound to run into ragweed and mold, which can lead to intense allergic reactions," says Dr. Keith Hnilica, associate professor of dermatology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee. "The best precaution you can take for your dog in early fall is to limit exposure to allergens, but when allergic reactions occur, pet owners should consider how their veterinarian can help with medicine for dogs -- especially since people are increasingly turning to those options for themselves."

Owners can proactively avoid some frustration by limiting their dogs' exposure. Below are some common sense ideas for owners to help avoid the fall itchies and make this season a little more comfortable for their pets.

  • Stay away from un-mowed grass -- Ragweed pollen is more likely to be airborne in areas with high grass and weeds. To limit exposure, restrict a dog's outdoor time to either mowed lawns or areas of packed dirt during the peak ragweed season, August 15 through the end of September.
  • Clean up leaves and other decaying matter promptly -- Leaves sitting on a lawn are more likely to absorb water and decay, creating higher concentrations of mold. Clean up decaying matter quickly and keep dogs inside to limit exposure.
  • Avoid morning, take advantage of rain -- Pollen tends to circulate most heavily between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., so limit outdoor activities during those times. Conversely, rain helps prevent pollen from spreading, so take advantage after rain showers for outdoor activities.
  • Brush the dog down when returning indoors and bathe frequently -- Any time spent outdoors exposes dogs to mold spores and ragweed pollen that gets trapped in their coat. Grooming the dog with a stiff brush before coming indoors helps prevent the prolonged contact that leads to allergic reactions. Bathing weekly washes off many of the pollens and spores that cannot be removed through brushing.
  • Talk to a veterinarian about managing allergies -- Even with a close eye, dogs still develop allergic reactions. Veterinarians have many options to manage atopic dermatitis including Atopica to target the harmful reaction to allergens like ragweed that cause itchiness and inflammation.

Additional information

About.com: Veterinary Medicine - Fall Allergens

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