Dogs are the most common type of pet in the United States. Among the 84.9 million American households with pets, 63.4 million are dog owners. Since dogs are man’s best friend, it’s clear to see why the statistic is what it is. You can even find people with pet allergies who want dogs as pets. Like them, some dogs can have allergies, but these aren’t allergies to humans. Are you worried that your dog has allergies? Learn more about your dog's seasonal allergies below.
Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies?
The shortest answer to the question is yes. If you’re a new dog owner, you may get surprised by this fact. The same applies if you haven’t had much interaction with dogs before and are new to pet care. Like people, dogs can develop allergies. These dog allergies can be seasonal, often caused by environmental factors. We’ll discuss these causes in more depth below.
How Common Are Allergies in Dogs?
No matter what the breed or background, allergies are quite common in dogs. If your dog has allergies, you can find symptoms of it appearing at six months old. Most dogs get affected by allergies by the age of one or two years.
On whether dog allergies get inherited, there’s still no conclusive evidence. Some vets and scientists assume that an inherited type is an allergy to pollens and plants. For now, the experts are still studying if a dog can inherit allergies from its forbearer.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Humans with environmental allergies can get triggered by a lot of different allergens. The same occurs in dogs with seasonal allergies. Allergens that trigger human allergies are also the triggers for dogs' seasonal allergies.
The most common environmental allergens for dogs include:
- Pollen from trees and grass
- Mold mites
- Fresh grass
- Flea saliva
- Dust mites
As the name goes, this type of allergy often shows up at certain times of the year. Seasonal allergies often get triggered during the fall or summer. These are times when environmental allergens, like pollen and dust, get spread in the air.
These can affect a dog’s daily routine and cause irritation and pain. For example, seasonal allergies can disturb your pet’s dreams. They can also affect a dog’s immune system and put them at risk of other health problems.
Managing the symptoms of your dog’s allergies can help ease their day-to-day life. We’ll discuss how you can control the symptoms of a dog’s seasonal allergies later.
Signs and Symptoms of Dogs' Seasonal Allergies
If you have allergies, you’ll notice that most of the symptoms appear in the upper respiratory area of your body. You’ll get runny eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and such. You may even start swelling in certain areas and/or have trouble breathing from severe allergies.
Several of these symptoms also manifest in dogs. Yet, skin conditions are common signs of allergies in dogs. Below is a list of the common signs that your dog has allergies:
- Itchy ears
- Runny, itchy eyes
- Red, inflamed skin
- Swelling (face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps)
- Chronic ear infections
- Constant licking
Remember that these symptoms don’t only point to seasonal allergies. Your pooch might not have allergies at all and have a different condition instead. If you want to get an accurate diagnosis, bring your dog to a veterinarian.
Veterinarians can get a bead on the health issues that your dog is having. They’ll base their diagnoses on your pet’s history, physical exams, and laboratory tests. They’ll also check your dog’s responses to therapy to confirm the allergy.
You can also take your dog to a dermatologist for a second opinion. Dermatologists will conduct a test on the dog’s skin. A skin test is another accurate method for identifying skin allergies in a dog.
How You Can Help Manage or Treat the Allergic Reactions of Your Dog
The best way to help your dog manage his or her allergies is to keep them away from the causes and allergens. This may involve a lifestyle change.
The problem with environmental allergies is that they are difficult to manage. Often, the pollen, dust, and mold that trigger dog allergies are in the atmosphere. You can expect to observe recurrent bouts in allergic reactions in your dog.
As a dog owner, you likely live in a dog-proofed home. However, it also helps to have an allergen-free home. Improve your indoor air quality by getting hypoallergenic covers and cleaning often.
The place where your dog sleeps also needs to be allergen-free. Get a washable doggy bed for this purpose. It allows you to make sure you get rid of all the unwanted fibers that can cause your dogs to have a reaction.
Shampoo therapy is a great way to help ease your dog’s symptoms. A hypoallergenic shampoo or medicated shampoo can soothe inflamed and itchy skin. It’s also a great way to wash out the allergens on a dog’s coat before they can get absorbed through the skin.
Vets may suggest anti-inflammatory therapy, which involves giving your dog anti-inflammatory drugs. These antihistamines will block allergic reactions. Depending on the dog, a vet may offer daily oral medications or long-acting injections.
Finally, you can use desensitization or hyposensitization therapy. It involves injecting tiny amounts of antigen into your dog every week. It will desensitize the immune system and can even cure allergies.
Other Types of Allergies in Dogs
Seasonal allergens aren’t the only types of allergens that can affect dogs. The first type is skin allergies. Under that umbrella are food allergies, flea allergies, and environmental allergies.
Dogs can also have food allergies. The symptoms of food allergies include itchy skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. Often, dogs feel the itchiness created by food allergies on their ears and paws.
Flea allergy dermatitis is the allergic reaction of dogs to fleabites. Often these symptoms show in itchiness at the base of the tail, inflamed skin, and scabbing. You may also see symptoms of fleas or actual fleas infesting the dog’s fur.
Environmental allergens come from dust, pollen, and the other causes we listed above. They can cause atopic dermatitis or atopic allergic reactions. Often, these allergens are the types that cause seasonal allergies in dogs.
The other type of allergy in dogs is food allergies. Yes, we already mentioned it, but this is a more serious type. True food allergies in dogs cause skin problems and vomiting and diarrhea or both.
In rare cases, your dog can even get a severe reaction resulting in anaphylaxis. The good news is that true food allergies are rare in dogs. Often, people mistake food sensitivities as true food allergies, even when they aren’t. If you’re worried about your dog having food allergies, consult a vet to confirm it.
How to Tell If a Dog Has Seasonal or Food Allergies
As you can see, the symptoms of seasonal and food allergies are quite similar. It’s not wise to jump to conclusions and risk your dog’s health. The question is, how do you know if your pet is showing symptoms of seasonal or food allergies?
The simple answer is to keep track of the symptoms for a year. Food allergies will cause year-round symptoms. If your dog’s allergy symptoms only show at certain points in the year, it has seasonal allergies.
Things to Consider When Your Dog Has Seasonal Allergies
In the US, 45% of pet owners spend the same or more on their pet’s healthcare needs than on themselves. It’s understandable if you’re willing to do the same for your pooch. However, not everyone can afford dog allergy treatments.
If you’re on a budget, getting medication for a dog's seasonal allergies may be cheaper. You can also get supplements for your dog that can help boost its health and immune system. Giving your dog fish oil or fatty acid supplements can reduce itchiness and improve skin health.
Like dealing with human allergies, adopt a cleaner routine and practice air cleanliness. Change air filters at home often. A dehumidifier can also keep moisture from the air, which can reduce mold growth.
Avoid jogging with or walking your dog in the early morning or late afternoon. You can’t avoid getting in contact with environmental allergens.
However, you can avoid the time when pollen levels are at their highest. You may also want to avoid going to places with a lot of pollinating plants, like fields and parks.
Keep Your Dog Happy, Healthy, and Allergen-Free
Another way to ensure that you are managing your dog's allergies is by getting a hypoallergenic dog bed for your big dog. Don’t jump to conclusions, especially when it comes to your dog's seasonal allergies. Visit a vet with your pet and get an accurate diagnosis. You can even get a second opinion if you want to be extra sure.