As we planned to take to the road, I didn’t give much thought to dog allergies … but spend a few sleepless nights listening to your pooch scratch, and allergies quickly move to the top of your priority list! In retrospect it seems so obvious – we’ve had the dogs in nearly every climate in the US – it’s amazing we haven’t run into this issue before now.

The Northwest Doesn’t Agree with Buster

Perhaps it’s a plant that flourishes in the Northwest, or maybe it’s a mold or fungus that thrives in this rainy and humid environment. Whatever the cause, it’s seriously gotten under Buster’s skin … and we’ve all been irritated.

Buster in T-shirt

The poor boy was scratching himself raw, and the fact that he was miserable was enough to drive us all crazy. Fortunately, his Thundershirt during the day and a long-sleeved t-shirt at night, kept him from hurting himself. The big red scratch marks have disappeared – but that didn’t solve the underlying problem.

So, we talked to the boys’ vet back home. Based on our description, he concurred it was likely an allergy and suggested an over-the-counter allergy medication. Buster took it for a few days, but we didn’t see any improvement. What the heck, we haven’t done the emergency animal hospital thing in a while … who wants to go to the vet?

Seeking Professional Help

Buster may have been desperate for some relief, or perhaps he forgot what the word “vet” means – either way, he was ready to go … immediately!

At the hospital, Buster was super-friendly – even more than his usual happy-go-lucky self. I suspect he was manipulating the pet owners in the waiting room to scratch under his Thundershirt where he couldn’t reach. He’s not above using people.

Sleeping at Vet

Buster was perfectly comfortable and the doctor was great. She explained everything and answered all my (slightly neurotic) questions. She agrees that Buster likely has environmental allergies and has prescribed a one-week course of steroids to help him with the itching, and we got an oatmeal shampoo for him. He’ll also be on a different over-the-counter antihistamine to see if that gives us better results. The vet did warn us that, until we know how drowsy the allergy medication makes him, Buster shouldn’t be driving the motorhome.

As soon as we got back to camp, Buster got a bath with his new shampoo – which he loved, of course!

Buster getting a bath

A Few Days Later

The new medication and the shampoo have done the trick! The steroids have made Buster’s extra thirsty and needs to empty his bladder more frequently, but he’s hardly scratched himself at all in the past 48 hours. Believe me, he’s not the only one who’s relieved!

So here are a few things we’ve learned from this episode:

  • Talk to your veterinarian before you leave on a road trip about the proper allergy medication and dosage for your dog.

Note: It can take two weeks or more for these medications to have an impact on skin allergies – so it’s normal not to see immediate improvement.

  • Pack a good anti-itch shampoo in your dog’s travel bag.
  • Use a wet paper towel or wet wipes to remove any pollen from your dogs feet, legs, and belly after every outing.
  • Consider bathing your dog when you return from a hike or a walk through vegetation to which he might be allergic.

Unfortunately for Buster, his people are a little slow on the uptake. We hope your dog can benefit from our experience!

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