People often suffer from seasonal allergies, but did you know that they can affect dogs as well? Here’s what to watch out for.
Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes? Nope, we’re not talking about your latest bout of hay fever, we’re talking about those oddly familiar symptoms your pooch has started to exhibit. And make no mistake, they’re as troublesome for him as that runny nose is for you.
Yes, your pets can be susceptible to seasonal allergies and while there’s no silver bullet that’s going to cure a dripping nose, there are steps you can take to help alleviate the discomfort. The first, is to understand what causes allergies, the second is to recognize some of the obvious (and not so obvious) symptoms, and the third is to check out some of the relief options available to your pet.
Related: Food Sensitivity Guide: Best Dog Food for Allergies
So, just like humans, seasonal allergies in dogs happen when they either come into contact with or inhale, something that’s sets them off. And because we’re talking “seasonal” allergies, it’s typically going to be related to tree, weed, or grass pollen, flea bites, mold, or dust mites. All that stuff that happens when seasons change and new triggers emerge – specifically, spring and fall.
Now, those strong physical reactions are caused when your pet’s natural immune system has become intolerant of the allergens and its natural protective mechanism kicks in – inflammation. And just like with humans, your dog’s system doesn’t become immune to those allergen triggers over time, it becomes less tolerant. So, let’s get your plan in place.
1. Respiratory Issues
One of the more obvious clues that your pet is dealing with seasonal allergies is coughing wheezing, and sneezing that remains ongoing. For cats, it can turn into feline asthma, and result in some pretty messy sneezing as the congestion builds. With anything related to respiration, its important to get your pet into the vet for an official diagnosis of allergies.
2. Red or Inflamed Skin
As you scratch a mosquito bite, a dog will bite and scratch in order to relieve the itch that some allergies can cause. Before he scratches himself raw, try bathing him with a gentle shampoo to help alleviate the itching. In cases where a mild infection has set in, look for a medicated shampoo. If it becomes worse, begins to smell, or is impacting your dog’s appetite, get him in to the vet.
3. Paw Licking
Grooming his paws is part of your dog’s natural cleaning ritual, however if its obsessive (as in, every time he lies down, he’s worrying the tops and pads of his feet), it may be down to allergies. Its related to when the antigen and antibodies in his immune system react with mast cells to release super potent chemicals – histamines. They cause local itching, swelling and redness. Hence the paw licking, face rubbing, and ear shaking.
We’ve all seen it, but do we know what causes your dog to drag his butt across the floor, carpet, deck, or any other place that just feel right? Well, similar to the paw licking, its down to itchiness and is likely caused by those histamines that are brought about by allergies.
Once diagnosed there are a few routes you can take:
If his affliction is not extreme, try wiping your dog down with a damp towel or baby wipes after his outdoor playtime to remove allergens.
Again, if not extreme, you may find that a weekly bath using a gentle dog shampoo can be sufficient to keep allergens at bay.
Another option is to try changing his diet. There are some dog foods that have been specifically formulated to help tackle seasonal allergen reactions such as itchy skin.
For more serious cases, check out some of the medicated dog shampoos that contain antihistamines, as well as the lotions and sprays – your vet can advise on which is better suited to your pooch’s situation.
If you’re looking for an oral resolution that is safe and natural, try adding Omega-3s to your dog’s diet. It offers mild, anti-inflammatory properties that may be enough to curb your dog’s itching.
Over-the-counter antihistamines are another option and brands such as Benadryl or Claritin can be effective for dogs. For more serious allergy prevention power, you may want to ask your vet for Atarax – highly effective but a ‘scrip is needed.
When all else fails, it may be time to check out allergen injections. Its an effective solution for dogs with severe allergies, it has minimal side effects, and you can administer at home.