How to help manage allergies in dogs.
Springtime typically means warmer weather, nature in bloom and … itching and sneezing for seasonal-allergies sufferers. But what about for our pets?
Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies?
You may be surprised to learn the answer is yes — dogs can have seasonal allergies.
Unlike food or drug allergies that can cause symptoms year-round, dog seasonal allergies only pop up during certain times of the year. Just as you may struggle with seasonal allergies, your dog might, too. In fact, the same types of environmental allergens that trigger a reaction in people — including dander, grasses, weeds, trees, insects, pollen and mold — can also irritate your dog.
Though we often think allergies (in both humans and dogs) are triggered through inhalation, new research suggests allergens can be absorbed through the skin. Veterinarians have found that dogs are more likely to absorb allergens through their skin or paws because they have such close contact with the ground. Simply running through grass can expose your dog to allergens.
What Are Signs of Allergies in Dogs?
While humans may suffer from itchy, watery eyes and sneezing, the biggest indicator of dog allergies is when your pet scratches more than usual or develops hives or scabbed skin in certain areas. Allergies can create what veterinarians call an "itch-scratch cycle."
- The dog has an allergy that makes their skin itch, so they scratch it.
- The scratched spot becomes infected.
- The infection makes the dog lick and scratch more, causing additional problems.
If your dog's itching becomes serious, consider scheduling a vet appointment.
Other common dog allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy or red ears, or frequent ear infections
- Red, irritated skin
- Hair loss
- Large, open sores around feet
- Constant licking
- Swollen paws
Any of these symptoms could also indicate other health issues for your dog, so if you are concerned about your dog's health, you should always see a veterinarian.
What Can I Give My Dog for Allergies?
Unfortunately, there's no way to cure allergies, so management is key to avoid making the problem worse. The good news is that allergies can often be managed at home. Here are a few interventions you can try if you think your dog has seasonal allergies:
- Anti-itch sprays or creams: These topical treatments can provide temporary relief for your dog.
- Dog shampoo: Shampoo can wash away allergens that might be in your dog's fur. Dog shampoo can also soothe and hydrate inflamed, itchy skin.
- Leave-on conditioners or after-bath rinses: After-bath products work best when the hair is still wet after the bath and can prolong the skin's contact time with soothing ingredients.
- Fatty acid supplements: These supplements can help support your dog's skin and coat health.
- Avoid the allergens: It's hard to keep a dog from going outside, but you can limit how much time they spend outdoors on high-pollen days.
- Vet-prescribed medication: A veterinarian can prescribe steroids to help with itching or antibiotics to clear up any secondary skin infections. Vet-prescribed medications are sometimes needed before at-home options will become effective.
Seasonal allergies can make your dog itchy and miserable, but by taking some preventative steps and knowing how to alleviate the symptoms, you can reduce your pet's discomfort and help prevent more serious skin conditions.