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Seasonal Allergies in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

If you have a dog with seasonal allergies, they may experience similar symptoms to humans, including reactions that range from itchy skin to skin infections. In this article, our Erin vets share ever you need to know about seasonal allergies in dogs.

Your Dog's Seasonal Allergies

If your pet's immune system overreacts to a certain substance (called an allergen), your dog can have an allergic reaction. These allergens are usually harmless to your pet's health, however, some dogs are hypersensitive. Hypersensitivity will cause an allergy and symptoms that come along with it.

Seasonal allergens are relatively common when it comes to dogs. When your dog first comes into contact with something they are allergic to, their immune system will go out of whack, leading to a reactive response every time they encounter that allergen in their environment.

If your dog's allergy is seasonal, they will only experience reactions at specific times throughout the year when the allergen is active. Some common examples of seasonal allergies in dogs include:

  • Mold spores and mold mites
  • Fresh grass
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Fungus
  • Weeds
  • Saliva from flea bites
  • Pollen
  • Hay

Although most causes of allergies can't be cured, there are ways to manage their symptoms to improve their day-to-day life.

Dog Seasonal Allergies Symptoms

Even mild cases of seasonal allergies can cause a dog major discomfort, so it's important to recognize potential symptoms, which can range in severity and reaction depending on the irritant.

For example, while hay fever often triggers runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes in humans, a dog's skin can become irritated when hay fever is the culprit and extreme itchiness can develop, along with an irritated throat and sneezing.

Since symptoms of different allergies can be quite similar, allergies can be hard to diagnose. For example, symptoms of hay fever in dogs can be identical to those of pollen or dust allergies.

Some common symptoms in dogs experiencing seasonal allergies include:

  • Skin infection or irritation
  • Scratching or biting at the skin due to itchiness or irritation
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Respiratory issues (e.g. coughing, wheezing, issues breathing)
  • Shedding and hair loss
  • Irritated throat
  • Rash on face or paws
  • Rubbing face on floor or furniture
  • Scooting (dragging butt across the ground) and/or licking rear
  • Ear infections, waxy ears, reddened ears
  • Shaking head– This is an especially common allergic reaction for dogs with floppy ears such as basset hounds.

These conditions could be painful and even dangerous, so seek veterinary care sooner rather than later.

Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

Your dog's vet can diagnose seasonal allergies by discussing your pet's history with you, performing a physical examination, running several diagnostic tests, and monitoring your dog's treatment response to therapies.

Your vet may also recommend a specialist veterinary dermatologist for skin testing. These specialists can offer a more accurate way to diagnose and treat your pet's allergies.

During the testing period, your dog will be monitored for reactions to microdoses of different allergens to identify the specific allergy that's causing their symptoms. The data can be used to develop an allergy serum to help manage your dog's response to allergens, which decreases the allergen's intensity over time.

What to Give Your Dog for Allergies

When discussing how to treat your dog's seasonal allergies with your vet, the allergy serum mentioned above (and prescribed by a veterinary dermatologist) may help. It will mean a series of allergen injections, gradually increasing in dose over time. 

For mild seasonal allergies, your dog may respond well to simple remedies such as antihistamines that you should be able to purchase at your local pet store.

Oral prescription medications and fast-acting, anti-itch medicine can be very effective and can be discontinued without negative side effects. Your Erin veterinarian can prescribe the best medication to manage your dog's symptoms.

If your dog has symptoms that affect a specific body part, see if there are treatment options that are designed for that area. For example, if your dog's allergy causes them dry, cracked paws, dog allergy paw treatment may be available at your nearest pet store.

Some prescription medications may have side effects, so ask your vet how taking them may affect your dog's health so there are no surprises. We always recommend speaking to your vet before giving your dog any medications, including over-the-counter ones. Whether your pup is taking over-the-counter medication or something prescribed, your vet can provide advice on the appropriate dosage for your dog. 

Limiting Exposure to Allergens

From fall through summer, your dog may be exposed to any number of allergens. To keep your pup happy and healthy if they have allergies, managing exposure is key. After your dog comes in from playing outside, you may want to use a baby wipe on their paws, legs, and underside to remove allergens from the skin.

Weekly baths with oatmeal shampoos and lukewarm (not hot) water may also help. The water must be lukewarm to prevent overdrying and skin irritation. Medicated shampoo containing steroids or antihistamines can work well, as can prescription-strength sprays and lotions. 

When it comes to dogs and allergies, proper treatment and active prevention measures can often reduce the impact of seasonal allergens on your dog's health and well-being, though it may take some experimenting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you think your dog is experiencing seasonal allergies? Contact our Erin vets today. Our team can help diagnose the cause of your pet's allergies and provide the best way to treat their symptoms.

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