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Using Nasal Allergy Sprays in Dogs

Can Your Dog Use Nasal Allergy Sprays?

       Allergy remedies for canines are much more commonly administered as tablets or topical shampoos, sprays, creams, but you can certainly try a nasal spray allergy solution.

The down side:

  1. It is challenging in dogs to get them to sit still and then hold their head up for 2-3 minutes or so after you apply the spray (so that it can be absorbed). In other words, they won’t inhale it and hold it in like we do. 
  2. Dogs have a much longer snout than we do, so nasal sprays may be less effective.           
  3. Nasal sprays should only be used if the dog has inhalant allergies, because the sprays will not be effective if the dog has food or contact allergies.

The upside: 

  1. The ingredients in most of our human allergy nasal sprays are safe to dogs (non-toxic).
  2. If it helps there will be much less side effects than if you were to use an oral medication like prednisone.
  3. The nasal sprays are recommended if the dog displays respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing or coughing. The nasal sprays may contain corticosteroids or antihistamines, which will bring temporary relief to the nasal allergy symptoms.

What to Use? 

1.  Antihistamine Nasal Sprays

            Antihistamines are the first choice treatment option for pets. There is some evidence that they may be more effective in cat than in dogs. 

  • How do they work? 

            The antihistamine medications inhibit the production and reduce the effects of the histamines that are produced when the dog is allergic to an irritant. Antihistamines are nothing new. We’ve been using them for pets in the form of tablets and injections for years. It is the delivery of them in the form of a spray that is relatively new. 

  • Which one? 

            I would start with Astelin. It can be an efficient nasal spray for dogs with respiratory allergic reactions. This is an over the counter spray, but your veterinarian should be consulted prior to administration. If you try one and it doesn’t work, remember that there are numerous antihistamines, and some may work better than others. It might be a case of you and your vet finding the right one for your pet.

2.  Steroid Nasal Spray

            Steroids should be saved for dogs that have more severe allergic reactions.

  • How do they work?

            The nasal sprays containing steroids will have an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect. The allergies will cause the swelling and irritation of the air passages. The nasal sprays will effectively reduce the swelling and reduce symptoms such as sneezing, panting or coughing.

  • Which one?

            Common nasal sprays for dogs containing corticosteroids include Flonase or Nasonex. If considering using either, speak to your veterinarian before treatment.

When to Administer Nasal Spray

            The nasal spray may be administered when you notice any respiratory allergic reactions in your dog. However, you may also apply some spray prior to exposing your dog to an identified allergen that cannot be avoided (grass, pollen, mold, etc.). This will prevent the secretion of histamines when encountering the allergen and the dog may not display any allergic symptoms or just a few mild symptoms.

How to Administer the Nasal Spray

            The nasal sprays created for dogs have a special design which makes them easy to use. Take the dog's head and keep the muzzle directed upwards. Get the spray in the other hand and apply the medication so that it gets in the dog's nose. Keep the dog's head in this position for at least three minutes, allowing the medicine to enter his system. Praise your pet and give him a treat. Try to avoid spraying the dog in his mouth, as the sprays may cause allergic reactions in the mouth. Apply the sprays a few times per day, especially when the allergic symptoms are more severe.

Additional Treatment

            Nasal spray allergy medicine may be effective in reducing the symptoms in your dog, but this is only a temporary solution. Talk to your vet and discuss other long term options. Allergy desensitization injections or oral serum may be an option, and these can drastically reduce the dog's allergic reactions.


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