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Tuesdays with Toby: Dog allergies

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Allergies can really affect your dog.
Allergies can really affect your dog.

I knew dogs could have allergies, but I didn’t know how caustic their reactions could be.

Several years ago Toby and I were living in Washington, D.C. when a massive snow storm hit. I had a vet appointment for Toby because he had runny, red, mucus-filled eyes. It was gross. I cleaned his eyes out with warm salt water every hour or so and kept him hydrated (Why is that always what the doctor tells you to do when you’re sick?).

Needless to say, we had to cancel his vet appointment and by the time the walls of white melted enough for us to drive, his eyes had cleared up.

Over the years, Toby has begun doing something weird. It sounds like a choke/snort and it can take him over like a fit. He is breathing so I knew he isn’t actually choking.

Friends have told me it is a “reverse sneeze” and that I can stop the fits by pinching his nose and scratching his neck. Or by plugging his nose and opening his mouth. Or by shouting his name and giving him a treat.

Anyhow, the pinch/scratch thing worked. But then another fit of reverse sneezing would ensue, even waking himself (and the rest of us) multiple times during the night.

Turns out, Toby’s healthy as a horse but is likely the victim of doggie allergies.

“Here you go, Mom,” Toby’s vet, Dr. Freed told me as he handed me some antihistamines for Toby. “If this doesn’t work come back and see us again.”

The next day, Toby’s left eye started to get super red and watery. As the day went on, the eye got worse, swelling and even getting goopy with mucus.

I thought the antihistamines would kick in and kill the edema. But by that evening, the white portion of his eye was swollen beyond his iris. It was gross. Toby wasn’t happy about it either, pawing at his face.

I made another appointment with Dr. Freed but before we saw him again Toby and I ran into his friend Dasha and her mom. Apparently Dasha, a 13-year-old black Labrador retriever, had really bad allergies. She went gluten (and allergy) free and ate special Wellness dog food that her mom got for her.

Dasha’s mom suggested I wipe Toby’s coat down with a warm cloth and asked me if I’d made any recent changes to his food.

Dun, dun, dun!

Right before the symptoms started, I’d put Toby back on Beneful Healthy Weight kibble (which he’d had before) to help him shed some pounds. But, I read on dog-allergies.blogspot.com that many of Toby’s symptoms were the same as those caused by food allergies.

I switched him back to his regular “big boy” Beneful in a day or so and he was back to his regular old sneezing self.

If your doggie has any symptoms like these, he might be allergic to something in his diet also. Dogs also can have seasonal allergies (like Toby has) and may need some changes to his environment to help him out.

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