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Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies?

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Last updated

Dog scratching in a field

Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies?

Just like humans, dogs are prone to seasonal allergies. In fact, they may be one of the most common types of allergies that dogs experience. Seasonal allergies cause sneezing, paw licking, and itchiness only at certain times of the day or year. 

It isn't easy to detect the allergens that trigger reactions in a dog. It’s usually something like pollen, but it could also include things like fertilizers on lawns during certain times of the year. 

So how do you know if your dog has them and what can you do about it?

Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies 

Several types of allergies can affect dogs. Food allergies, environmental allergies, and skin allergies (contact dermatitis) are the most common culprits. The symptoms of all these allergies can overlap, making it even harder to determine the exact allergen harming a dog. 

An allergic reaction occurs when the body's immune system has an exaggerated response to foreign substances. Such antigens are harmless to the general population, but allergic animals are hypersensitive to them. 

Before finding out the particular cause of a reaction, you must first know when it’s taking place. Recognizing various signs and symptoms of an allergic response goes a long way in finding medical help for your pup to help alleviate the suffering. 

If your dog shows irritation only at certain times of the year or day, they may have seasonal allergies.

Diagnosing an allergy in your pup is time-consuming because there are multiple health issues to rule out. Until the exact cause is determined, here are 7 signs and symptoms of allergies you need to look for:

1. Scratching

Compulsive scratching in dogs is a telling sign of an ongoing allergic reaction. Moderate scratching is typical in dogs as a form of mental stimulation if they are bored or nervous. If the scratching gets out of hand, your pup may be in the initial stages of an allergic reaction. 

Persistent itchiness is a cause for concern because it could lead to secondary infections. Dogs create some dampness when they bite on the itchy area. This dampness is an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeast that can lead to infections. 

2. Excessive licking 

Licking is a fairly common behavior observed in dogs. Dogs will lick themselves occasionally as part of their grooming regime and even lick you to show affection. Licking becomes cause for concern if your pup does it excessively. 

Allergies cause licking in dogs, especially excessive paw licking ,which you can read more about in this article. Allergic reactions are a major reason why pups lick their paws because of itchy paw pads.

You must address excessive licking of the paws, belly, genitals, and anal area as soon as you notice it. Licking creates a damp environment which we’re already said encourages the growth of microbes leading to secondary infections. 

3. Rubbing the Face and Body

If you notice your dog constantly rubbing their face against surfaces, they may be suffering from an allergic reaction. Rubbing is a by-product of itchiness in either a localized part of the body (the face) or the entire body. They may also have discharge from the eyes and nose from irritation.

An attempt to alleviate itchiness will have your pup rubbing their body on surfaces like the furniture and carpet. This rubbing, once done excessively, will irritate your pup's skin leading to redness and sensitivity.

4. Sneezing 

When your dog sneezes more than usual, they may be sick or be having an allergy attack. Reverse sneezing, characterized by rapid and repeated inhalations through the nose, is also a symptom of allergies. Persistent sneezing can occur when an allergic dog comes into contact with an irritant such as pollen. 

5. Swelling of the face and other body parts 

Allergens could affect your dog leading to a swollen face. If your dog starts experiencing swelling of the face, lips, eyelids, or ear flaps, they could have an allergy. Visit the vet if the swelling doesn't resolve in a couple of days for an antihistamine prescription.

6. Red, inflamed skin

Allergens often irritate your pup's skin resulting in dryness and itchiness. The allergic dog will scratch the problem areas aggressively, causing them to turn red. You can observe irritated skin on visible body parts like the skin on the belly, paws, or chin. 

7. Itchy eyes and ears infections

Apart from the eyes appearing swollen, you could notice a discharge coming out of them. Itchy eyes and ears cause discomfort to your pup and are common symptoms of allergies. A dog with itchy ears will shake their head constantly in an attempt to minimize the itchiness. 

Ear infections are a common symptom of seasonal allergies in dogs. Headshaking, redness in the ear, and a build-up of dark discharge are all a sign of ear infections. These can become very painful for your dog and can cause long-term damage, so ear infections should always be taken seriously.

Dog with allergies

Causes Of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs 

Seasonal allergies are often referred to as environmental allergies because the allergens exist in the surroundings. Seasonal allergies are sometimes called seasonal allergic rhinitis or "hay fever". 

Pollen grains are the most common allergens that trigger the onset of seasonal allergies. Dogs allergic to pollen treat them as invaders, and their bodies release chemicals such as histamine to fight them.

The most common outdoor allergens are pollen from wind-pollinated trees, grasses, and weeds. Pollen from insect-pollinated plants are too heavy to remain airborne and are less likely to cause allergies in dogs. 

However, there can be other seasonal culprits. For example, if you throw down fertilizer on your lawn in the spring, this can cause an allergic response. Mold in wet and humid conditions can also be a problem.

Dust mites are also a common issue. They tend to die in the winter, but heating systems can keep them alive, creating year round allergies.

What Time of the Year Do Dogs Get Seasonal Allergies?

Dogs with seasonal allergies are most prone to allergies during the warmer months of May to October, when dust mites are most active. If you notice that allergies are at their worst in spring, then the problem is likely pollen.

Most seasonal allergies attack dogs in the spring when trees typically appear and release pollen. If your pup is allergic to grass pollen, they may get allergies in the late spring and summer because pollen is released then. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions even in the fall.

Seasonal attacks are uncommon in the winter season but not unheard of. There are still a few plants that release pollen into the air during the winter that could trigger allergies. As can heating systems that keep dust mites circulating.

What Can I Give My Dog For Seasonal Allergies?

Allergy attacks are a difficult time for both you and your canine friend, and you'll want to minimize their symptoms. A mix of medication and supplements will give your pup the relief that they need. 

  • Medication 

Your pet's health care provider will prescribe an assortment of medications depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. Most medications prescribed for allergies help decongest the nose and reduce itching in your dog. Antihistamines block the chemical histamine that is involved in allergic reactions. 

Allergy medications can include oral, nasal, or ocular (eye) antihistamines and decongestants. The vet can also prescribe nasal steroid sprays or other steroid medications.

In extreme cases, the vet can prescribe an allergy shot for your pup. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) help your dog's body build immunity to specific allergens. If you notice signs that your dog may be having an allergic reaction, consult your vet as soon as possible. 

  • Supplements 

Alternative treatment methods for allergies, such as supplements, are available to pet owners. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid supplements effectively treat dry and itchy skin in your dog. 

The Front of the Pack's Soothe is a potent immune system supplement that supports your dog against allergies. It contains powerful probiotics that promote a healthy gut microbiome and strengthen the immune system. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that help with dry and itchy skin caused by allergies. 

How Do I Protect My Dog From Seasonal Allergies?

When it comes to any allergies, prevention is better than cure. Avoiding the environmental allergens causing seasonal allergies is the best protection. It may not be possible to avoid environmental allergens altogether. However, reducing exposure to allergens goes a long way in keeping your dog allergy-free. 

  • Wipe Your Dog’s Body After Going Outside

Pollens from outside can stick to your dog's fur leading to allergic reactions. Wipe your dog's body and paws with a damp cloth when you return home to avoid the hassle of a full bath. Your dog can bring pollen into the house prolonging their reaction time. 

You can opt to use hypoallergenic grooming wipes instead of a damp cloth to wipe your pup. Focus on your pooch's paws because pollen concentration is highest on their paw pads. Wiping your dog's body helps get rid of other environmental toxins found outside. 

  • Walk Your Dog In The Evening 

Pollen grains are the biggest triggers of seasonal allergies. Pollen counts rise in the early morning and peak by midday or early afternoon. Walking your dog in the evening reduces exposure to the allergens, which are pollen grains in this case. 

  • Keep The Air Indoors Clean

Staying indoors when pollen counts are high is an excellent way of reducing seasonal allergies in your dog. While in the house, use purifiers to keep the air inside clean and fresh and to remove particles from the air. Close the windows whenever you know allergy season is approaching. 

Regularly cleaning and changing the air filters at home helps keep the air clean. Minute amounts of airborne pollen may get stuck in the air filters, which trigger your pup's allergies. 

Dehumidifiers help remove moisture from the air that could promote the growth of mold. 

  • Clean Surfaces Your Dog Comes Into Contact With

You should frequently clean areas in your house where your dog stays regularly. Clean where your dog sleeps every once in a while to prevent pollen grain build-up from your dog’s fur. 

Final Thoughts 

Dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies caused mainly by exposure to pollen grains. Dogs with seasonal allergies suffer most in the warmer months, when there is more pollen, dust mites, and mold to contend with. Medications such as antihistamines help combat allergies, but you can take preventive measures. 

Preventive measures against seasonal allergies include staying with your pup indoors when the pollen counts are high. Supplements such as the Front of the Pack's Soothe help dogs with allergies by alleviating symptoms like dry and itchy skin.