When we think of springtime our minds often go straight to flowers blooming, the snow being washed away by spring rain, and the vibrant colors that replace the gray winter. For some of us, our minds go to a much more negative place, seasonal allergies. What many dog owners may not be aware of is that many dogs also suffer seasonal allergies that can lead to more serious conditions and infections. Today we are going to take a look at how to diagnose seasonal allergies in your pup and the best way to treat them to avoid more serious conditions or infections.
How to Recognize Allergies in Your Dog
Seasonal allergy symptoms in dogs are very similar to humans, with an emphasis on skin itching and irritation. If you notice your dog is itching more often than normal or if their skin is becoming irritated during spring months, your dog may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Itching and irritation can either be isolated to one area, most commonly their ears or paws, or can affect their whole body.
In medical terms, your dog is suffering from Atopic Dermatitis. This occurs when a dog’s immune system overreacts to an allergen that enters the skin and causes irritation. This irritation can cause your dog to itch, chew, lick, and scratch incessantly, which can lead to infection. It is important to identify these symptoms early on to avoid severe ear or skin infections that could lead to more serious health issues. If you suspect your dog is suffering from Atopic Dermatitis due to an allergic reaction we recommend scheduling a vet appointment immediately.
Top Seasonal Allergens for Dogs
Seasonal allergies in dogs occur because they come in contact with something that their nervous system isn’t equipped to handle. Like humans, seasonal allergies in dogs occur most commonly in spring when tree pollen and fresh grass become more prevalent.
Dogs can also be affected by things in the house like dust, dust mites, and mold.
How to Manage Your Dog’s Seasonal Allergies
There are multiple ways to treat your dog’s seasonal allergy symptoms depending on the severity and duration of the effects.
Skin Care and Shampoo
If your dog’s symptoms are minor, we recommend wiping down irritated areas with a wet cloth to remove allergens from their coat and skin. You can also bathe your dog with a hypoallergenic shampoo that is formulated to soothe sensitive and inflamed skin. There are great over-the-counter shampoos, but your vet may recommend prescription shampoo if your dog’s allergies are severe.
If your dog's allergies aren’t resolved by cleaning and shampooing their coat and skin your dog may require medication to thrive during seasonal allergy flare-ups. Again, the medications used can depend on the severity of your dog’s symptoms. Antihistamines like Diphenhydramine, Chlorpheniramine, and Hydroxyzine are great at treating mild symptoms and may be all your dog needs to feel its best.
If you have tried skincare and antihistamines and your dog is still suffering from seasonal allergies, you can also try hyposensitization therapy. This process involves gradually introducing allergens to your dog’s system to improve its immune system in hopes that it will no longer experience allergy symptoms. This can be an involved process and we recommend a serious dialogue with your vet to see if this is right for you and your pup.
Most dog allergy symptoms are minor, and if you follow the steps above your dog will be able to happily enjoy the springtime weather with you and your family. If your dog’s allergy symptoms go beyond atopic dermatitis and you are concerned for their well-being get your dog to an emergency vet hospital as soon as possible. If you’re looking for springtime activities with your pup check out our recent blogs on the Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Pennsylvania and the Best Dog Parks in Ohio, or browse puppies online to find your next furry friend.