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Is your dog suffering from fall allergies?

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By Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
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In the autumn, falling leaves and dried-out weeds release clouds of irritating particulate matter into the air, right where your dog is waiting to inhale them. As pets move indoors to escape the cold, mite allergies may develop.

Dogs trap allergens in their extensive sinuses. Fur is also a natural magnet for dust and particles, which means that your dog could be covered -- inside and out -- in triggering pollens. Add to that a warm autumn where the fleas are still around and you have one unhappy dog.

Dog allergies manifest in several ways, but the symptom most commonly recognized by owners is itching. Some pets chew their feet raw, some rub their noses, and others lick their bellies until they are red. Then there are the dogs that are too busy itching to get a full nights' sleep, yet their skin looks perfectly fine.

No matter the time of year, veterinarians usually treat environmental allergies with a combination of methods, depending on the severity of the symptoms. These options can include:

--Antihistamines
--Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
--Regular bathing with a mild shampoo
--Prescriptions to treat secondary bacterial and fungal infections
--Immunosuppressive drugs
--Allergen-specific immunotherapy, more commonly known as allergy shots

If you suspect your pet may have allergies, see your veterinarian for an evaluation. It is a chronic and sometimes frustrating disease condition, but in most cases it is manageable if you determine the cause early in the course of the disease.

Dr. Jessica Voselsang is a small animal veterinarian and pet aficionado from San Diego, Calif. When she's not at work or with her family of two and her four-legged creatures, you can find her blogging about life with pets at PawCurious.com.

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