Dog Days of Summer
Many pet owners are all too familiar with their own seasonal allergies, from pollen to mold to insect bites. But what about your dog’s allergies? Pets can suffer from seasonal allergies just as much as their owners, and it is important to recognize the symptoms of summer allergies in dogs to help your pet find relief.
Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Dogs are subject to the same seasonal allergy triggers as many humans, and may be allergic to tree and grass pollen, mold, insect stings, flea bites, feathers, and other allergens that have seasonal fluctuations. A pet’s allergen intolerance can develop over time, and a dog may suddenly seem to be allergic when no allergy symptoms have been obvious in the past. This can also be the result of a change in local conditions, such as planting new trees or bushes in the yard that produce excessive pollen that will trigger the dog’s allergies or moving to a new area with a different climate and different allergen load. As a dog ages its sensitivity to different allergens may change, and allergy symptoms may become more acute and noticeable.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Your dog can’t tell you how it feels about allergy symptoms, but there are physical indications of allergic reactions that every pet owner should be aware of. Depending on the type of allergen and the severity of a dog’s reaction, allergy symptoms could include:
- Excessive itching or licking, especially of the paws, groin, or bare skin
- Red, swollen, or watery eyes or excessive eye discharge
- Runny nose
- Sneezing fits
- Swollen paws
- Hives, rashes, or other visible skin irritation
- Chronic ear infections
- Hair loss
If your dog shows signs of potential allergic reactions, consult your veterinarian for a proper allergy diagnosis. This will help gauge exactly which allergens are most irritating to your pet, as well as how severe their reactions may be. Allergies can be diagnosed by both skin tests and blood tests, and your vet will ask questions about the animal’s reactions, changes in local conditions, when the symptoms are most severe, and whether there have been any recent dietary changes or other factors that could be causing similar reactions.
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Managing Your Dog’s Seasonal Allergies
Once your dog’s seasonal allergies have been identified, there are many different options to manage the problem and provide relief. Depending on the severity of the allergies and the exact allergens that most impact your pet, you may want to consider…
- Medication: Your vet could prescribe allergy medications, including antihistamine or steroid pills, to help manage your dog’s reactions. Topical creams may also be effective.
- Injections: Pets with moderate to severe seasonal allergies may need regular allergy shots. You can easily administer these at home, and gradually build up the dose to give your pet relief.
- Nutrition: Adjusting your dog’s diet to nourish healthy skin can help the animal resist mild allergy symptoms. Adding the proper fatty acids to the dog’s diet can be effective.
- Baths: Removing allergens from your dog’s skin with soothing baths can minimize allergic reactions. Avoid perfumed soaps or shampoos, however, which could aggravate tender skin.
- Wiping Paws: Wiping your dog’s paws and underbelly after every walk or outside playtime can remove irritating allergens from bare skin, minimizing allergic reactions.
- Cleaning: Regularly cleaning your dog’s bedding and toys will remove many allergens. Similarly, vacuum and clean flooring, draperies, and upholstery regularly to minimize indoor allergens.
- Air Quality: Improve indoor air quality by using allergen-reducing air filters to help your pet breathe easier. In damp areas, a dehumidifier can reduce mold that may trigger allergies.
- Exposure: If your pet reacts to specific plants, avoid playing or walking where those plants are abundant. Remove strong allergens from your yard to give your pet a safe place to play.
- Booties: Wearing pet socks, boots, or booties can help dogs with very sensitive feet avoid the most common allergens, and the footwear can easily be washed.
- Pest Control: If your dog reacts to flea bites or insect stings, take steps to make your home and yard less hospitable to those insects, and consider flea treatments or other preventative measures.
Seasonal allergies cannot be cured, but once you recognize summer season allergies in your dog, you can take steps to minimize any reactions and discomfort. For the best results, use multiple techniques to keep your pet healthy and comfortable, and stay alert to any changes or additional reactions that may indicate different allergy developments. With proper care, your dog can have a happy, comfortable life with minimal allergy complications.