Allergies, Florida...these two words go together for a lot of people as well as animals. The weather in Florida is lovely most of the year. But, because the cold does not last very long, there is no significant frost to prevent things from blooming. As many people know, the pollen has been very high this year, which does not help those people, or dogs, who are allergic.
This is not meant to be an in-depth article discussing allergies in the dog, but rather a look at some easy things you can change to see if there is any improvement. As always, you should take your dog to a veterinarian for evaluation if the signs are severe or do not improve.

Some dogs are pollen allergic, but there are other things outside in the big bad world that can cause discomfort or irritation to your dog. The first thing to remember is that the dog is running around and playing in the grass and sand, this increases their exposure to the pollen or irritants. Pollen is airborne but will settle on the ground. Early in the morning and late at night when the dew is on the ground, the pollen sticks more easily. As a result, when you walk your dog first thing in the morning and right before bed, there is more pollen on the ground to get on the dog's feet and fur. Since pollen allergies in the dog are partially inhalant and partially contact, this creates a problem. One thing that is easy and relatively inexpensive is to wipe down any area that comes in contact with the grass with hypoallergenic baby diaper wipes. These wipes are created to clean without getting the area excessively wet and to dry quickly. Both of these characteristics are beneficial since getting the feet too wet while wiping them off will create other problems.

Some people think that just because their dog does not spend much time outside, they are not affected by the pollen. This is not necessarily true. If the animal spends time with you on a screened porch, there is exposure to the outside world as many things can be carried in through the screen with the wind. Also, if you spend time outside and your pet likes to rub on or sniff at your clothes, this could also expose them to allergens.

Antihistamines may help some allergies, but I would recommend you discuss this with your veterinarian as animal doses are different than human doses. Some antihistamines may be better than others based on the weight of the animal and the severity of the reaction occurring. Please do not self-medicate your pet, this can cause problems in many cases.

In mild to moderate cases, topical medications, such as shampoos and rinses, can be extremely beneficial. Again, I would consult with your veterinarian as not all shampoos are the same.
In addition to pollens, there are other things in Florida that can cause irritations. There are many more bugs outside than in some other parts of the country. So fleas, ants, roaches, mosquitoes all have to be on the list of potential causes. Fleas are probably the easiest to remedy if you use good quality flea preventions on a consistent basis. Please do not stop your flea treatment when you no longer see fleas. You are not seeing fleas most likely because of your treatment. If your pet is sensitive when the fleas return so will the skin irritations.

Ant bites can cause a large amount of irritation. Many dogs get a lot of bites because they will play where the ants are and not always move to not be bitten. If your veterinarian is not available when the bites occur, you could soothe the area with a cool compress and topical antihistamines until the pet can be evaluated by your doctor.

Mosquitoes are irritating in most cases, but they also carry many diseases. If you engage in activities with your dog in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes, please consider using some type of pet safe bug repellant. You may want to look at some of the flea preventions as some of these are effective against mosquitoes.

Being outside in Florida can be a lot of fun, but one has to be careful to protect your pet, and yourself, from some of the potential environmental problems. Be safe and enjoy the sun!