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When Ralphie was around 1 year old, I noticed him scratching quite a bit, especially around his mouth. It was unusual to me because I would sometimes wake up hearing him itching at night, which I never had before, and it seemed he was itching every 10-15 minutes no matter what he was doing. There were also small red bumps around his lips, and the hair had started to look thinner and there was a bit of raw skin and irritation. The vet said it was likely environmental allergies and recommended Benadryl and see how that goes, as well as some fish oil which she said helped with inflammation.

I can't remember exactly why the vet decided it was environmental and not related to food, but I believe it was because the excessive itching presented right around May/June when things are blooming around here. Then, when the Benadryl calmed the itching pretty much immediately, she was pretty sure it was environmental. So far, the allergies haven't been a problem in winter when everything is dead, but right around...well, as of two days ago, actually....I start up with the meds again because he starts getting itchy.

As he's gotten older the allergies have gotten a bit more severe. They start earlier, for example, usually right when my tulips start pushing up! We had to switch from Benadryl to Zyrtec because the Benadryl wasn't as effective anymore (Hint: Costco has "Benadryl" and "Zyrtec" Kirkland brands of their own that are sooooo much cheaper than the brand names). If I notice he is still a bit scratchy even on meds, a bath usually takes care of it. I haven't noticed a change in severity for about two years (Ralphie will be 6 in July), so I'm hoping it stays relatively mild and we don't have to graduate to prescription allergy meds.

I will also say that the allergy meds do not make Ralphie drowsy like they would many humans! I have never noticed a change in that regard. The vet said allergy meds just don't seem to have those side effects for dogs, which made me feel much better about using them whenever Ralphie needs them.
 
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