April 4, 2022
Springtime Sniffles: How To Spot The Symptoms Of Canine Allergies And Provide Relief
The runny nose, the itchy eyes, and the scratchy throat that won’t go away are just a few of the “joys” that springtime allergies bring. No matter your location, springtime allergies appear due to pollen, various weeds, and many common types of grass.
These allergies can also affect your four-legged family member, manifesting in several physical symptoms. Here’s how to spot the signs and provide your dog relief.
An estimated ten to fifteen percent of dogs will develop seasonal allergies during their lives. Just like humans, a pet’s allergies can stem from sensitivity to something in their environment or be inherited genetically. Environmental factors include dust and pollen chiefly affecting the usual suspects: skin, nose, eyes, lungs, throat, ears, and stomach.
Excessive scratching and itching are the most common symptoms of allergies in dogs. Skin allergies can develop as a reaction to fleas, food, or environmental factors such as mold, pollen, and dust. The amount of itching can range from mild to excessive and can eventually lead to your dog scratching their skin raw, potentially opening the door for infection. Your dog may also be chewing at their skin, paws, or tail and rubbing their bodies on your carpets or furniture to provide themselves relief. Some common areas of irritation are under the arms, groin, muzzle, and paws.
If you’ve noticed your dog’s nose being abnormally runny, and the discharge is clear and watery, then seasonal allergies are most likely the culprit. While common skin diseases such as canine atopy could also be the cause, a runny nose and an inordinate amount of sneezing is most likely linked to a seasonal allergy. If the allergy is left untreated for too long, it could develop into Allergic Rhinitis, and may become a chronic condition.
If your dog’s nose is running, it’s more likely than not that their eyes are runny as well. Eye allergies are commonly “mistaken for an eye infection due to the similarity in their symptoms.” An allergic reaction to pollen, weeds, or grass can manifest in your dog’s eyes and cause redness, dryness, and itchiness. This irritation will lead to your dog scratching and rubbing their eyes and may cause an eye infection, it can also cause excessive squinting as your pup tries to find relief.
As the ground dries out in the warmer months, it becomes more common for dogs to inhale something that doesn’t agree with their immune system, making respiratory congestion a common symptom of seasonal allergies. This may lead to coughing or wheezing as a response to inflammation from irritants such as pollen, dust, dirt, soil, or sand.
Allergies that begin in the eyes or the nose can quickly make their way to your pup’s throat, causing a chain reaction of irritation. Discharge from the nose often drips into the throat and can cause further inflammation of your dog’s respiratory system. This often leads to coughing, gagging, or an excessive amount of swallowing.
Allergens can make their way into your dog’s ears and can quickly turn into ear infections if left untreated. You may notice your dog shaking their head an unusual amount or scratching at their ears frequently. If you look inside your dog’s ears, you may notice redness, inflammation, or discharge; there may even be a distinctive smell resulting from bacterial infection. If afflicted, the ears will be sensitive, and your pup will probably let you know they’re bothering them.
What To Do About It
Visit Your Vet
If you suspect that your dog has a seasonal allergy, the first thing you should do is schedule a visit with your vet. There are a number of blood tests they can run to help pinpoint exactly what the source of your pup’s allergies are. Once diagnosed, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory, steroid, or antihistamine, depending on the severity of the allergy. They may also suggest an omega-3 supplement or anti-itch topical to help reduce skin inflammation.
Ultimately, your vet will want your dog to avoid the allergens that are causing a reaction. Once they diagnose your pup, they’ll be able to tell you how to reduce contact with naturally occurring allergens with such strategies as reduced time outdoors.
Although the “b-word” may cause instant panic for some dogs, it’s a necessary part of managing seasonal allergies. Hypoallergenic shampoos are a great option for combatting itchy, irritated skin. Make sure you know what your dog’s specific allergy is before deciding on shampoo. This may inform the difference between a natural and a medicated approach.
Avoid using warm water as it can further irritate afflicted skin and try to make baths as quick as possible as your dog’s skin may be extra-sensitive. Here’s a great how-to guide for bathing a dog with allergies.
Clean, Clean, Clean
An easy way to help provide relief to your pup is by eliminating irritants found in your home. Replacing your air filters will help reduce airborne allergens that enter your home each time you open a door or window. Running a dehumidifier or air conditioner consistently will cut down on moisture and make it harder for potentially harmful mold to grow in your home. You’ll also want to vacuum frequently, as dust and pollen can quickly accumulate on carpets and floors.
ANY surface that your dog likes to sleep on should be cleaned regularly. Whether it’s a specific spot on the floor, favorite bed, couch, chair, or YOUR bed, make sure you clean these surfaces at least once a week. Consider placing a blanket over hard-to-clean areas can make this task a little easier.
The treatment of seasonal allergies in dogs can be frustrating for both you and your pet. While there are several holistic strategies to combatting allergies, it’s always best to get professional advice from your veterinary provider before deciding on a treatment plan. Your vet will be able to ensure the allergies are caused by environmental factors and not from food or bacterial infections.