As difficult as summer is for Las Vegans with seasonal allergies, the pollen blowing about the Valley can make man’s best friend downright miserable. These environmental allergies are not new, but workers at several veterinary hospitals say they are seeing an increase in allergy cases—though it’s not clear why. “I feel like every year I’m telling people, ‘Allergies are really bad this year,’” says Christiano Fontes, a veterinarian with Sunridge Animal Hospital in Henderson.
Runny noses or runny eyes can be an indication of allergies, although canines don’t get as congested as humans. Instead, dogs will often develop skin problems; itchiness and rashes—watch for redness, bumps or blisters. Skin infections can lead to odors, another common side effect. Chronic or recurrent ear infections hint at allergies, too. “They can get ear or skin infections to where they’re really just tearing themselves up,” Fontes says. He advises people to monitor pets’ symptoms from year to year; if they come on every spring or summer, chances are they’re allergy related.
Vets generally prescribe antihistamines to manage allergies; dosages need to be carefully tailored to size and breed. For his worst cases, Fontes prescribes immune suppressive drugs, like steroids or cyclosporine.
A 2011 national study by Quest Diagnostics suggests that climate change might be to blame for the growing number of human allergy sufferers, but more research is still needed to confirm this. In the meantime, we keep sneezing and our four-legged friends keep scratching.