Summer has given way to fall, and winter is right around the corner. Unfortunately, these seasonal changes bring more than falling leaves and snow: they also cause many dogs to develop allergies. Seasonal allergies are amongst the most frustrating kinds of allergies for a pup and her parents to face. Whether it's the incessant scratching at the ears, constant chewing on the paws, or frequent sneezes, dogs with seasonal allergies suffer all kinds of discomfort at this time of year. As a pet parent, you may feel helpless to make your pup feel better. We’re here to help with four tips to successfully treat seasonal allergies in your dog.
What causes seasonal allergies in dogs?
While many pup parents notice when their dogs start suffering from seasonal allergies, they may not know the source of the inflammation and reaction. An allergic reaction occurs in your dog when she is exposed to an environmental allergen and her immune system reacts in harmful ways. Generally, the immune system is there to protect your dog from disease and infection, but some environmental allergens cause the canine immune system to respond incorrectly.
When a canine sensitivity to an allergen occurs, the immune system overreacts by releasing too many histamines, a defense against any foreign proteins within the body. The result is often one or more of these symptoms: itching, swelling, and inflammation.
Here are some of the common environmental causes of seasonal allergies in dogs:
- mold spores
- plant and tree pollens
Dogs with seasonal allergies often suffer from one or more of these symptoms:
- itchy, patchy, or flaky skin
- hot spots
- hair loss
- open sores on the skin
- runny nose
- eye irritations
- smelly or dirty ears
- respiratory congestion
In some cases, dogs with seasonal allergies may chew or scratch themselves so much that secondary ear and skin infections develop. The most commonly irritated areas include the head, ears, stomach, groin, armpits, and paws.
4 ways to treat seasonal allergies in dogs
Watching your dog suffer from allergies of any kind is difficult for a pup parent. Thankfully, there are some steps and remedies you can use to make your dog’s life less itchy and more comfortable.
1. Bathe the allergens away
Offer your pup some immediate relief by washing away the allergens on her body with regular baths. Use a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo or one that is specifically formulated to soothe sensitive or inflamed skin. Products that include evening primrose oil, oatmeal, or aloe are ideal selections to help stop and prevent future allergic reactions.
2. Keep your pup’s favorite spots fresh and clean
Whether your dog sleeps in bed with you or has her own bed or blanket she lays down on, you want to wash all bedding in hot water at least once a week. Placing towels or covers on top of the bedding may act as an additional barrier between allergens and your dog’s body.
If your dog loves to lie on the chair, couch, or floor, keep these areas vacuumed and cleaned regularly with non-toxic house cleaners as much as possible.
3. Add some supplements to the mix
Research shows that some dogs may see a reduction in their seasonal allergies with the addition of supplements to their diet. From vitamin C to magnesium to curcumin to fish oil, there are a variety of anti-allergy supplements that may make a difference in your dog’s life.
Most supplements are available in various forms that are easy to add to your pup’s daily meals. For example, omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements come in soft gel and pill forms, both of which can be mixed into your dog’s food or masked with foods like peanut butter or pill pockets.
Always remember to speak with your veterinarian before giving your dog any new supplements.
4. Stop allergens before they get in the door
Pollen levels are often highest in the early morning and evening, so if you can avoid walking your dog during those times, you may be able to limit her exposure to these environmental triggers. Take the same approach with any parks or trails where your pup may come in contact with offending pollen, grass, or weed.
If changing where and when you walk your dog isn’t realistic, you can still stop allergens before they get into your home. After your walk, wipe your dog’s paws thoroughly with fragrance-free hypoallergenic wipes. You will immediately remove pollen or other allergens from your pup’s body without the need for a full bath. This step also stops the allergen from entering your home and potentially continuing to irritate your dog.
Other means by which to prevent your dog from walking in environmental allergens include dog boots and DIY methods, such as soaking your pup’s paws in apple cider vinegar to remove the pollen. For this DIY approach, mix 2 parts water to 1 part apple cider vinegar.
Take serious allergic reactions to the vet
If your dog’s seasonal allergies are interfering with her ability to have a good quality of life, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you can. A professional can provide a better idea of the allergen’s source. Also, they can offer more aggressive options to tackle those allergies, including medications, steroids, antihistamines, and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Serious allergies add up to serious veterinary bills, so make sure your dog has a pet insurance policy that can help you cover her care. Don’t have pet insurance? Get a free, personalized quote here.
With the right tips and tools, you can make your pup’s life better, and less itchy and annoying, no matter what the season may bring.
- Lee, J. A. (2020). Histamine, Allergies, Hives: 2 Preventative Steps for Dogs, Cats, Horses & You! Retrieved from https://adoredbeast.com/histamine-allergies-hives-2-preventive-steps-for-dogs-cats-horses-you/
- Scott, D. (2020). Canine Allergies: A New Look. Retrieved from https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/a-new-look-at-canine-allergies/
- Dr. Angie. (2020). 5 Supplements EVERY Itchy, Allergic Dog Should Be Taking. Retrieved from https://boulderholisticvet.com/5-supplements-every-itchy-allergic-dog-taking/
- Johnson, M. (2018). 10 Easy Ways to Beat Seasonal Allergies When the Pollen Count Spikes. Retrieved from https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2018/06/10-easy-ways-to-beat-seasonal-allergies-when-the-pollen-count-spikes/
- Peralta, J. (2020). 3 Simple Ways Apple Cider Vinegar CAN Help Your Dog. Retrieved from https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/3-simple-ways-apple-cider-vinegar-can-help-your-dog/