Like humans, our animal companions can suffer from seasonal allergies. While usually little more than an annoyance, severe or persistent allergies can lead to lifelong health problems in pets.
With spring upon us, we’ll take a closer look at signs of allergies in dogs, and offer some tips on their prevention and treatment.
Possible Causes of Spring Allergies in Dogs
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system identifies some agent in the environment as dangerous. Common allergens include tree, grass, and weed pollens, as well as mold, mildew, and dust. Parasites—such as fleas—can produce reactions similar to those of allergens, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and signs.
Identifying Allergies in Dogs
In humans, allergic reactions to airborne allergens like pollen and mold usually present as a runny nose, watery itchy eyes, sneezing, and respiratory difficulties. In dogs, however, nearly all allergy symptoms are expressed via the skin. Reddened irritated skin that waxes and wanes with the seasons is a tip that your pooch may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Other common symptoms: excessive licking or over-grooming of a specific body area; bald or thinning patches in the fur; "hotspots,” areas where the fur is absent and the skin is acutely inflamed; and itchy, smelly ears which may be accompanied by head shaking. Some dogs also may rub their faces and snouts persistently against furniture. These symptoms—alone or combined—are strong indicators that your dog is suffering from allergies.
Allergy Prevention and Treatment in Dogs
In dogs, reduction of symptoms can be achieved though regular bathing to remove pollen, dust, dander, and bacteria from the skin. Ear washes help remove dirt and bacteria that can contribute to inflammation and irritation.
Also, frequent paw washes (or paw soaks) can reduce the allergens your dog brings in from outside.
In persistent or severe cases, see your vet. A veterinary dermatologist can identify the specific agents to which your dog is most sensitive and can offer tips on minimizing exposure, as well as a treatment plan specific to your dog’s health needs.
We hope that with these tips in mind you and your dog will have a happy, allergy-free spring! If your dog has yet to develop allergies, consider investing in dog pet insurance!
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.