Spring Fever for Dogs? A Seasonal Checklist

Ah, springtime! Buds are busting out by the bushel in forests and fields. Bees and bugs are buzzing; creatures are stirring and scurrying. Time for long walks with your best friend and… “Hey, Max! Did you just sneeze?”

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Yes, the warmer weather entices us out-of-doors into an environment teeming with life, which is not always such a good thing. Could our hardy dogs be just as bugged as we are by mosquitoes, bees and, heaven forbid, allergies?

“Absolutely, seasonal allergies can be one of the most common problems that bring pets in to see us this time of year, as well as late summer and fall,” writes Dr. Maria Verbrugge, Clinical Instructor at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

But that wouldn’t be why your dog is sneezing. “Unlike in humans, the most common symptoms are itchy skin and ears, sometimes itchy, watery, red eyes. Allergic rhinitis (sneezing and nasal discharge) is uncommon in pets.”

While down on all fours, your dog is getting an extra helping of pollen in the spring and dust in the drier times of summer,  he could be reacting to the same things that bug us humans, only in different ways. Then what’s up with the sneezing? Think about it, if you were down there putting your nose into every petal, anther or stem that smelled interesting, or using it to plough through fields of wheatgrass, you would experience a great deal of tickling on your tender parts, but that’s not a big health concern unless the nostrils become tender and excessively irritated.

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For the more serious effects of seasonal allergies on your dog, and what to do about them, we turned to The Doggington Post (Yes..we checked; there’s no “Wuffington Post”) and its recently-posted seasonal allergy issues page. And while reading up about allergies, the responsible owner should check out the website’s home remedies for bug bites and bee stings, which also go with the seasonal territory. Be prepared for bugs and other pests to be a bigger deal than in years past; a changing climate affect insects’ breeding environments.

Verbrugge warns: “Other important seasonal consideration are fleas and ticks, many of which are increasing their range and showing up in areas where they haven’t been seen before, bringing along tick-borne diseases with them.”

Another good seasonal resource is a new Facebook page on recognizing and treating acute allergic reactions to bug bites, put up by Dr. Leigh Fenderbosch, an Emergency Veterinarian at the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center-Dublin, Ohio.

Heartworm used to be a big concern in the warmer months only, but another recent effect of climate change has been increasing numbers of veterinarians recommending year-round heartworm prevention treatment due to increasingly unpredictable mosquito season.

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