The changing of the seasons can be an exciting time of year. Most pet parents have a favorite season, and their dogs might have one too. On the other hand, some seasons are less enjoyable — especially if the dog suffers from seasonal allergies.
Here's what pet parents need to know about seasonal allergies in dogs, causes, signs, and how they can provide relief for their pet.
Causes of Dog Seasonal Allergies
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakes particles that would otherwise not be harmful as a threat. These particles are known as allergens. When the immune system makes this mistake, it releases histamines that attack healthy cells.
Both dogs and their pet parents can suffer from allergies. One of the most common types of allergies is seasonal allergies. These allergens are only common at certain times of the year.
Spring accounts for the biggest spike in seasonal allergies due to the large quantity of pollen the environment produces. However, dogs can have seasonal allergies at any time of the year.
The following are also known causes of seasonal allergies in dogs:
Clinical Signs of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Dogs suffering from allergies may not have severe reactions, making it difficult for pet parents to know there is a problem. Dogs with severe allergic reactions are often easier to diagnose.
A dog likely has seasonal allergies if their pet parent notices any of these clinical signs for allergies during specific times of the year:
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Congestion and coughing
- Constant scratching
- Flakey inflamed skin
- Hair loss
- Excessive licking
- Dirty and infected ears
Many clinical signs of allergies can be mistaken as something else entirely. Therefore, it may take some time to diagnose.
Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies
In most cases, vets can quickly diagnose seasonal allergies based on the dog’s medical history and with lab tests. A blood test can help determine what allergen is causing the reaction. However, a blood test is not as accurate as a skin test.
A veterinarian will administer minuscule doses of allergens to perform a skin test and see what causes a reaction. Vets that use a skin test are usually board-certified veterinary dermatologists.
Dog Seasonal Allergy Treatments
Seasonal allergies cannot be cured, but several treatments are available to treat the clinical signs. The best benefit of going to a veterinary dermatologist is they can create a serum specific to the allergen affecting the dog. The allergen serum is the preferred treatment method for dogs with moderate to severe seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, pet parents living in rural areas may have to travel to see a veterinary dermatologist.
However, there are other allergy products and medications available that can be very helpful for dogs with mild seasonal allergies, such as:
- Allergy medications
- Dog skin and coat supplement
- Anti-itch shampoos and sprays
- Skin repair balm
Several allergy medications are available to dogs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. Many of the medications may sound familiar to pet parents because many dog allergy medications are the same as human medications. However, the dosage is much smaller for dogs due to their smaller size.
There are many over-the-counter allergy medications for dogs sold in pet stores. Some human medications, such as Benadryl, are also safe for dogs. However, pet parents should ask a vet about the correct dosage before giving their dog any human medications. For prescription allergy medications, the pet parent will need to take their dog to the vet for an exam.
Another way pet parents can help reduce the severity of their dog’s seasonal allergies is by keeping their home clean. Pet parents can reduce the number of allergens in their home by regularly cleaning the floors, wiping down surfaces, and washing the dog’s bed.
In addition, pet parents should also wipe their dog down with wipes or a damp cloth to help remove allergens stuck on the dog’s coat and paws. However, dogs aren’t the only ones that pick up allergens. Pet parents can also track in allergens and may want to take their shoes off before entering the home and put them in a closet.
Additional Dog Health Advice
Dogs with seasonal allergies will need continuous treatment throughout their life. Over time, pet parents may notice the treatment is becoming less effective. Once treatment begins to decline, the pet parent should contact their vet and have their dog’s treatment plan adjusted. New medications and products are constantly being developed to help alleviate dog allergies. Pet parents can continue to support their dogs by inquiring about the latest products.