Real stories from our doctors: Even Your pets are Affected by Seasonal Allergies

By Cindy Lovern, DVM, MS

Banfield Pet Hospital of Short Pump, VA


An eight-month-old, 5.8 pound female Chihuahua came in with a one day history of a severely swollen right eye and squinting. It gradually involved both eyes and was accompanied by a clear ocular discharge. She had been eating/drinking normally but acting lethargic. The owners had rushed the dog in thinking she had corneal ulcerations so I did a fluorescein eye stain in the right eye. This is a test that uses orange dye (fluorescein) and a blue light to detect foreign bodies in the eye. This test can also detect damage to the cornea, the outer surface of the eye. It was negative for any ulceration. For the left eye, the test was not medically necessary.

The physical exam revealed that her temperature, pulse and respiratory readings were all within normal limits. She had no fleas or flea dirt and her abdomen felt normal. A heartworm test was also negative. In addition I measured the dog’s intraocular pressure with a tonometer to rule out uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye) and glaucoma (a disease in which the optic nerve is damaged). The readings were normal. I then gave an injectable antihistamine (Benadryl) and 75cc of normosol fluids into the fatty layer of tissue under the skin to help with any undetected dehydration. I applied a sterile antimicrobial ointment to both eyes with instructions to apply twice daily for five days for inflammation. There were explicit instructions to never use this eye ointment in the future without first consulting a doctor, given the steroid component.

The diagnosis was allergic conjunctivitis and her prognosis was good. I asked that she be rechecked in three days (or earlier if her condition worsened) and in the meantime, if she was doing well but the allergen counts outside were still at record highs, for the owners to give children’s Benadryl liquid at 1 mg/pound of body weight and to wipe her ears/paws/fur completely down with puppy wipes every time she came in from being outside.

The dog is doing well and the recent rains helped wash much of the allergy offenders away for the time being.