Otto’s Allergies: RIGHT on Time
Posted at 04:21PM - Comments: (12)
So, last year, I wrote a blog post discussing the fact that maintaining (and saving) a calendar each year, loaded with notes about my dogs’ health and behavior, helped me identify and “diagnose” (if you will) Otto’s springtime allergies. That post (whole-dog-journal.com/blog/-20737-1.html) was published on April 5, 2012, but I had written it a week before... and I was referring to the weeks prior, when I had noticed that Otto was licking and chewing himself. Once I consciously noticed this, I first looked for fleas; I couldn’t find a single one, on Otto or any other animal in the house. Then I started paying attentionto the sound and sight of Otto chewing himself (as opposed to distractedly saying to him, without even looking away from my computer screen, “Hey, knock it off!” and continuing to work) – and I quickly realized that he was pretty much itchy all day. When he wasn’t licking or chewing himself, he lay down and looked chastened and miserable, rather than restful.
So, it took roughly three weeks for me to pay enough attention to my poor itchy dog to start treating his springtime allergies, and managing his environment to reduce his exposure to what I believe are the agents to which he is allergic. Namely, pollen.
I said, in that blog last spring, “Thank goodness for online calendars: I’m setting up an alarm for March 1, 2014: ‘Consider Otto’s spring allergies.’”
I set that alarm, and it sent me an email on March 1. But guess what? I had seen it on my calendar the week prior, and it prompted me to pay attention, to observe Otto and see whether he would start licking or chewing. And just like clockwork: he did. But this time, I was ready with the Benadryl, and all the other allergy-management tools at my disposal: I’m keeping him inside more; no more long snoozes on the (pollen-covered) deck out in the sun. I washed all the dog beds, and because this is a bit of a chore, I covered them with old sheets that I can wash every other day or so. I’m bathing him weekly, and wiping his coat with a damp cloth several times a day. And this has meant that I catch him licking or chewing his forearm or paws just once or twice a day, instead of once or twice every hour.
The weather over the past week has been rainy and overcast here, but everything is blooming anyway: the nectarine and apricot trees in my yard, as well as the hundreds of acres of peaches and nectarines and almonds a few miles down the road. Lots of grasses and other native groundcover, clover and mustard, are blooming here, too. I don’t know which springtime plants’ pollen causes all the trouble, just that it happens every year at this time, and that all my pollen-management tools really help my poor itchy dog – so much so that he doesn’t develop painful, weepy hotspots, or require veterinary attention.
What is your dog allergic to? If you keep track of (and review) his symptoms on a calendar every year, you can probably figure it out, too!