It's that time of year: gorgeous gardens, lots more time spent outside, and . . . sneezing. If all those beautiful Spring blooms have you reaching for the tissues and the allergy meds, you're not alone. Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. But did you know that our dogs have allergies, too? From food sensitivities to good old-fashioned hay fever, our canine companions can suffer from the same overactive immune systems as the rest of us. In fact, it's estimated that around 15 percent of dogs have seasonal allergies. Yet many pet parents aren't aware that their dog's constant scratching might be caused by allergies to environmental irritants.
There are tons of things your dog might be allergic to, including certain foods, insects, and chemicals and other man-made substances. If you're wondering about seasonal allergens in particular — hello, Spring sneezes — we've got the scoop, plus tips for spotting the symptoms and helping provide your pooch with some relief.
It turns out that dogs are a lot like us when it comes to being allergic. Yes, you guessed it: the most common culprits behind seasonal allergies in your pet include pollen, mold, and dust mites.
So, how do you know if your pup is just itchy or if it's a genuine allergy? If any of these signs sound familiar, a trip to your vet is probably in order.
Changing With the Seasons
A tree pollen allergy shows up in the Spring, so take note if your dog is extra itchy in April but not in October. On the other hand, a ragweed sensitivity is likely to occur in the Fall. And an allergy to dust mites would contribute to symptoms year-round, often intensifying in the Winter (because we're indoors more!).
If your dog is particularly itchy or suffers from hotspots, ear infections, or watery eyes at only one time of year, this is a major sign of allergies. Such seasonal reactions can intensify over time, too, getting worse the more that the dog is exposed to the allergens. That means a puppy who gets itchy paws when he romps in the grass could see worsening hotspots from grass exposure over time.
Common Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs
Besides the seasonal factor, look carefully at your dog's behavior. If wondering whether your dog is allergic, then first and foremost, keep an eye out for excessive scratching.
In particular, watch for itchiness in the ears, at the base of the tail, or in the eyes. Your poor pup might be chewing on sensitive spots or rubbing against furniture or the carpet, in addition to ordinary scratching.
Beyond lots of scratching, these behaviors can indicate that your pooch is allergic to something in her environment:
- Sneezing — of course!
- Excessive licking
- Chewing on paws
Also look for runny or swollen eyes and particularly irritated skin. Sometimes, scabbing or other infections occur as a result of complications due to allergies.
Testing and Treatment
If you suspect that your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, consider getting him tested to confirm. Yes, dogs can get tested for allergies, too! There is also a range of options for treatment, including medications and shots.
If you do find that your pup has the sniffles during certain seasons, make sure to tell anyone who regularly cares for your pet, including your pet sitter or dog walker.
Avoidance is a good tactic, too, even though it can be hard to stay away from the dog park when the weather is nice. Once you know more about your dog's allergies, you can monitor local allergen levels and keep your pet indoors on bad days.
If seasonal allergies are keeping you both indoors more, at least there's the silver lining of extra couch snuggles. Seriously, those are proven to make you both feel better.