Seasonal allergies in dogs can affect their quality of life. But, there is hope!
Dog allergies can hit your pup at different times of the year when allergens are present. Seasonal allergies in dogs are an immune system response to environmental allergens. The allergic reactions often present with itchy skin, but your pup can have many other symptoms and can be allergic to many different things.
It's hard for pet owners to watch their furry friends be miserable, but there are a few steps you can take to help them out. To determine the exact type of allergy, your doctor of veterinary medicine can do allergy testing to find out exactly what is causing the allergy symptoms. Another method of diagnosis is blood tests. But what causes seasonal allergies in dogs? The answer can depend on the season.
Spring Allergies In Dogs
Pollen is a huge source of allergies during the Spring for pets and humans alike. Symptoms can be watery eyes, itchiness, runny nose, and sneezing. But, pets can also begin licking themselves more than normal, scratching more often, and breaking out in hives. Pollen allergies can also lead to ear infections. If you notice your pup shaking their head more, they may have an allergic reaction going on.
All their scratching and licking can also lead to hair loss and hot spots. Your pet's DVM can treat skin allergies from springtime pollen. They may do skin testing to look for the cause of the allergies. Your vet may also refer you to a veterinary dermatologist to narrow down the exact cause. You can also use antihistamines like Benadryl to treat your pet's symptoms while working to narrow down the exact cause. Again, consult with your vet on the exact dosage for your dog and when to use it. Using an air filter or air purifier in your house can also help reduce the number of allergens floating in the air.
In the dry summer months, many of the common allergies are due to dust. However, summer is also when fleas thrive. Flea bites can cause your pup discomfort, especially if they have a flea allergy. Some pups can react to flea saliva, causing them to become red, itchy, and uncomfortable. The allergic reaction can cause atopic dermatitis, which a vet can treat. It is best to get your dog treatment as soon as possible. Their red, itchy skin is susceptible to secondary skin infections if it is already inflamed. If your pup is getting attacked by fleas, make sure you clean out their kennel, so there are not any lingering pests. Baths in hypoallergenic shampoos can help soothe your pup's skin too!
When Fall Allergies Hit
Environmental allergens during the fall months often come from plants like pigweed, sagebrush, goldenrod, lambs quarters, curly dock, and other fall-blooming plants. Another big source of allergies is dust mites. They can cause itchiness all over your dog's skin. The other environmental allergies are caused by mold. Falling leaves and rain create the perfect environment for mold growth in the dirt. When your pup goes out to play, they can inhale the mold spores. They can also transfer into your home, along with pollen on your dog's paws. Having wipes at the door can help with the transition inside after being in the yard and keep unwanted allergens outside.
Since dogs spend a lot of time inside during fall and winter, it is also important to look for environmental triggers inside the home. For example, pups can even be allergic to the carpet. And that's more than just their excuse to potty on it.
Mold allergies are at their peak during the winter months. No surprise, lots of rain and snow create damp areas that mold loves to grow in. Wash your pup's paws after going outside and keep the areas your pup frequently plays in as dry as possible. Airing out your home when the weather is nice outside and using an air filter are two ways to weed out mold spores.
Keep leaves raked up and away from your house. Piles of leaves are the perfect spot for mold to grow, so try to keep those to a minimum.
If your dog is dealing with itchy, irritated skin or hives, giving them some Benadryl can help ease the symptoms before seeing the vet. Since they are having a histamine reaction to the allergen, antihistamines do help control the symptoms. In addition, supplements like fish oil and omega fatty acids can help add necessary oils to your dog's skin.
Pet allergies are hard to avoid in high pollen times of the year, but you can lessen the effects. After walks, wipe down your dog's fur and paws. Try to avoid high pollen areas on your route. Another preventative measure is to avoid walking during the early morning or late afternoon. Pollen count tends to be higher at these times of the day. Immunotherapy and allergy shots are two other solutions to help your pup deal with severe allergies.
If your pup is dealing with food allergies, switching their kibble or putting them on a bland diet may help while you determine exactly what is causing their reaction. My dog was incredibly sensitive to dog food and would get itchy and have intestinal distress if she ate anything that did not agree with her, and that included things she found in the yard on her own, like acorns. Some coconut oil on her fur and pumpkin and oatmeal always seemed to help.
How do you handle your dog's seasonal allergies? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.
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