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Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies? Signs and Treatment

Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies? Signs and Treatment

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we field questions from dog owners every day about dog behavior, diet, and health. Sometimes, pet parents are surprised by our answers. 

For instance, did you know that your dog can smell your feelings? Or that a study at the University of San Diego California claims dogs can experience jealousy? 

Sometimes, our answers aren’t just surprising, but humbling. After all, once you learn that the average dog can understand approximately 150 words, you quickly realize that your dog understands you much better than you understand him. 

Over the years, we’ve found that one answer that consistently surprises new pet owners is our response to “do dogs get seasonal allergies?” The answer is: YES. While most pet parents have friends or family members with seasonal allergies, they may never have cared for a pet who suffers from allergies before.  

When your dog is uncomfortable, your goal is always to find out what’s causing it and do everything you can to eliminate it. You shouldn’t attempt to diagnose and treat allergies on your own, though. 

If you suspect your dog is experiencing seasonal allergies, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They’ll conduct an examination and talk to you about your dog’s symptoms before suggesting tests to rule out other conditions that can share overlapping symptoms. 

What Are Allergies in Dogs? 

Like humans, dogs can develop an allergic response to different types of food or ingredients. Some dogs can develop seasonal allergies to substances in their environments, like dust, pollen, and grass, too. 

Dog seasonal allergies are just like the seasonal allergies humans experience. Though the substances that trigger an allergic response aren’t generally harmful to people or pets, some dogs’ immune systems respond to them as though they are.

Seasonal allergy symptoms in dogs tend to overlap with symptoms of other conditions, as well. This can make diagnosing your dog with allergies challenging. If your pet is displaying any new symptoms, you should schedule a visit with your vet before attempting any dog seasonal allergies home remedies. Since your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong, though, it can be helpful to learn its signs, symptoms, and common causes. 

What Dog Breeds are Most at Risk?

After asking “can dogs get seasonal allergies,” the second question most dog owners have is, “what dog breeds are most likely to have allergies?” 

Although any dog can develop seasonal and environmental allergies, some breeds are predisposed to them. Dozens of dog breeds share the (unfortunate) genetic disposition to allergies, including: 

  • American Pit Bull Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Bull Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pugs

Regardless of whether your dog’s allergies are due to a genetic predisposition, you should talk with your vet about how their breed affects their allergy treatment and prevention. For example, pugs, bulldogs, and other breeds with prominent skin folds benefit from having their faces and necks wiped down daily. This daily cleaning routine helps to keep them clean, reduces the risks of skin infections, and can remove traces of any environmental triggers such as pollen or grass that they may have encountered during the day. 

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to any number of environmental substances. Some of the most common seasonal allergies that affect dogs are: 

  • Grass
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Fungi
  • Fleas
  • Dust

A dog’s allergy triggers will also be influenced by where he lives. The immune system can only develop an allergic response to a substance it has encountered before. The more frequently the allergen is encountered, the more opportunities there are for the immune system to mount an (over) reaction to it. Because of the way allergies develop, dogs can develop allergies at any age to any substance, even one they’ve encountered in the past without any problem. 

Though the symptoms of dog allergies can also be caused by other health issues, it’s useful to understand how your dog might respond to seasonal allergies. The majority of environmental allergies in dogs presents with skin and ears:

  • Itchy, flaky, or red skin
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Ear infections
  • Head shaking or ear scratching
  • Smelly ears or ears that appear dirty

Other symptoms to look out for that might indicate your dog has seasonal allergies are: 

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Paw licking

Every dog will respond differently, and they won’t all show their discomfort in the same way, so you should always never try to diagnose your dog without a visit to your vet. 

How to Treat Allergies in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dog seasonal allergies, but you can treat your dog’s symptoms to reduce or eliminate their discomfort. Once your vet has diagnosed your dog with allergies and run tests to identify their allergy triggers, they’ll develop a treatment plan that may include a combination of prescription and over-the-counter medications along with environmental or behavioral changes. 

Seasonal Allergy Medicine for Dogs

Unlike humans, histamines don’t tend to play a big role in dog allergies which is why over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin and Benadryl almost never work. Human allergy medications may sometimes be recommended as last resort medication in order to hold your dog over until their vet appointment. However, the dosage for dogs is not the same as it is for humans, and not all dogs are good candidates for some formulations. You should never provide any human medications to your dog without consulting with your vet first. 

If your dog’s allergies are severe or they are suffering from secondary infections, as well, your vet may prescribe a course of Apoquel, Cytopoint, Prednisone, and sometimes Cyclosporine. 

Other Dog Seasonal Allergies Treatment

Frequent bathing with an oatmeal-based soap or other allergy-safe cleanser may help give your dog some relief and remove airborne allergens from his skin and coat. You can also make some changes to your dog’s environment to help them avoid known allergen triggers. This may include changing your walking routine (pollen levels are typically highest early in the morning and in the late afternoon), upgrading your home’s air filters, and regularly washing your dog’s bedding and other washable surfaces in hot water. 

Conclusion

While there’s no cure for allergies and you can’t prevent your dog from having them, you can help alleviate the discomfort caused by your dog’s seasonal allergy symptoms. The first step in getting dog seasonal allergies under control is paying a visit to your veterinarian. 

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we provide compassionate and comprehensive pet care that incorporates behavioral health practices and traditional medicine. Our mission is to always provide excellent customer care to pets and their people, and ensure we educate and partner with owners so they can take an active role in their pet’s wellness. If you suspect seasonal allergies are behind your dog’s symptoms or have questions about dog seasonal allergy medication and treatment, contact us today to talk to a member of our team or schedule a visit.