Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergies. Although allergies in dogs are not as common as they are in humans, they often have the same triggers. In the spring, dogs can also suffer from seasonal allergies, which are typically caused by the increase of pollen as flowers bloom and grasses, weeds, and trees flourish.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Allergic reactions during the spring season can manifest itself in many ways. Here are the most common allergy symptoms in dogs:
Itchy Skin & Paws
An Australian Cattle Dog with an itchy back. Photo by Donnie Ray Jones. (CC by 2.0)
Scratching is often the first sign of allergies. Because airborne allergies mostly affect the skin, affected dogs scratch all over their bodies, especially around the face and abdomen. They also tend to lick their paws excessively. Scratching, chewing, and licking to alleviate itching and discomfort could lead to further problems, including hair loss and open wounds.
A dog with a runny nose. Photo by RonaldPlett.
According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, approximately 15% of dogs with seasonal allergies will suffer from allergic rhinitis. Apart from a runny nose, this might involve sneezing, as well as reverse sneezing – a sudden, involuntary intake of air through the nose that helps flush allergens in nasal passages down the throat. They might also suffer from a stuffy nose.
A dog with difficulty breathing. Photo by xlibber.
Seasonal allergies can also trigger asthma in dogs. When this happens, your dog will tire easily and have a hard time breathing. In bad cases, they will cough, and you’ll notice some wheezing with every breath. Asthma in dogs is rare but can be life-threatening without immediate medical attention. If you see signs of labored breathing, take your dog to the vet right away.
How to Manage Springtime Allergies in Dogs
When dogs have a food allergy, you can simply keep them from eating what they’re allergic to. Unfortunately, you can’t do the same for springtime allergies. But, there are many things you can do to reduce your dog’s exposure and manage their symptoms.
Bathe more often
A black Havanse bathing in a tub. Photo by pxhere.
Bathe your dog more often during the spring, especially if they spend lots of time outdoors. If they’re already scratching, you can use specialized dog shampoos that help relieve itchiness. But, bathing too often can also dry their skin and worsen their condition, so don’t overdo it. Once per week with a gentle shampoo should be enough.
Wipe and wash before going indoors
A Chihuahua wrapped in a towel. Photo by Aaron_H.
In between baths, wipe your dog’s fur with a damp cloth and rinse their paws with some cool water after spending time outdoors. This will help clean off the allergens they’ve come in contact with. Not only will that minimize their allergic reactions but also lessen the amount of outdoor allergens they take into your home.
If your dog’s paws are already irritated, they might nip at it and lick excessively. Often, that leads to drying and cracking. Make sure you learn how to heal cracked paws to manage their itchy feet and keep their condition from getting worse.
Wash their beddings frequently
A puppy resting on a clean dog bed. Photo by pxhere.
Their fur and paws can be a magnet for dirt, allergens, and other irritants, which may build up in their beds. So, wash their beddings once a week during the spring to keep their sleeping area clean and allergen-free.
Keep the house clean
A chocolate Labrador taking a nap on a newly-vacuumed carpet. Photo by Pikrepo.
Both you and your dogs can bring in allergens from outside. When you have a dog with seasonal allergies, it’s essential to keep your home clean. Pay special attention to rugs and upholstered furniture. If possible, invest in a specialized vacuum cleaner with allergy filters.
Replace air filters
A German Shepherd sniffs a vent. Photo by Naoto Anazawa.
If you use air conditioning, change or clean your filters regularly. That will allow your air conditioner to work more efficiently and reduce the amount of allergens built up in your home.
Provide a healthy diet
A bowl of high quality kibble. Photo by ariesa66.
A healthy diet will support your dog’s immune system and make them less susceptible to seasonal allergies. A healthier dog will also encounter less severe allergy symptoms. For optimum skin health, you may also want to consider giving your dog some skin and coat supplements.
Ask your vet for medication
A veterinarian examining a Greyhound. Photo by Marco Verch.
Sometimes, medication is necessary to alleviate your dog’s allergy symptoms. But, the Pet Poison Helpline notes that antihistamines can be toxic to pets when administered incorrectly. Always seek your vet’s advice to guarantee safe and proper dosage of dog medication.
Spring can be the best time to enjoy the outdoors with your dog. But, if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, it could be a time of great discomfort. Knowing how to identify their allergies, minimize their exposure, and alleviate their symptoms could make all the difference between surviving the season and actually enjoying it.