Spring is in the air, and that means pollen is as well. Chances are you know someone who has seasonal allergies. Perhaps you even have them yourself. What you might not realize is that your dog could be suffering from the same ailment. If it seems like your best furry friend just isn't himself when the weather begins to warm up, it could literally be something in the air. This guide to seasonal allergies in dogs will help you determine the problem and help your pet find some relief.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Allergies in dogs work much like they do in humans. For some, ingredients in their food cause allergic reactions. For others, the environment triggers allergies. A dog that seems to only have symptoms during warm months is likely having a reaction to pollen, weeds, or grass. Other causes might include flea saliva, mold, or other fungi. Allergies are quite common in dogs and are relatively easy to treat. Keep in mind, though, that once your dog receives a diagnosis, he will have that allergy for life.
Distinguishing Between Seasonal Allergies and Food Allergies
It may require some trial and error to determine whether an allergy is environmental or nutrition-based. Typically, though, dogs that have seasonal allergies only show symptoms in the spring or fall. The exception is if you live in a climate where the weather is warm year-round. Food allergies may present as a sudden onset of symptoms. Even if you haven't changed your dog's diet, some dogs can develop food allergies as they age. Additionally, some food manufacturers change their formulas and may switch to troublesome ingredients.
Signs Your Dog Has Seasonal Allergies
Your dog may exhibit a wide range of symptoms if he is suffering from seasonal allergies. They include sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Some dogs may develop hot, itchy spots on their skin. Other symptoms include scratching ears or licking paws. In rare cases, seasonal allergies may present themselves in the form of vomiting or diarrhea.
How To Diagnose Allergies in a Dog
If you suspect your dog has allergies, contact his veterinarian. Before the vet performs allergy tests, he or she will rule out other ailments that cause similar symptoms. If nothing else is causing the symptoms, your veterinarian will perform one of two types of allergy tests.
The most common and most convenient test is a blood test. Your vet will take a sample of your dog's blood and send it to the lab for testing. The lab technician will test the blood for allergen-specific antibodies and compare them to possible allergens. The downside of blood testing is that it can create false positives.
The other method your veterinarian might use is intradermal testing. This test is much more accurate. During the test, your vet will inject small amounts of up to 60 different known allergens into your dog's skin and monitor the spots closely to see which ones swell up. The swollen spots indicate an allergy.
How To Protect Your Dog From Seasonal Allergies
There are things you can do to make your space more comfortable for your dog. Where does your dog spend most of his time? If he mostly lays on the carpets, vacuum them more often than you normally would. If your pet has a dog bed or lays on your furniture, regularly vacuuming and washing bedding helps to keep allergens out of the home. Outside, pull weeds and try to keep your grass at a manageable length. If you find mold anywhere on your property, clean it immediately. It's not only dangerous to your beloved pets but you and your family as well.
Remedies to Help Your Dog's Allergies
If your dog's allergic reaction is mild, you can try a range of all-natural remedies. Common ones include quercetin, bromelain, and papain. Quercetin is a plant-based compound that houses antihistamines, antioxidants, and other anti-inflammatory ingredients. Bromelain and papain break down proteins and make it easier for your dog to absorb the quercetin. These ingredients, which are found in pineapples, may also reduce inflammation and pain.
Outside of supplements, try aloe vera and oatmeal baths (as long as your dog does not have a yeast infection). Boil oat straw and then mixing it into your dog's bath water. The ingredients reduce itching and can remove built-up allergens on the skin. After the bath, apply aloe vera to any hot, itchy spots for further relief. Remember to use only the gel if you are using a whole plant, as aloe vera leaves contain saponins, which will act as an uncomfortable laxative for your dog.
Are you always on the go? There are products you can take with you to use for temporary relief as well. When you notice your dog itching while you're playing at the dog park, grab some Tropiclean OxyMed Soothing Pet Allergy Relief Wipes. A quick wipe rehydrates skin and relieves itching related to dandruff and other allergy symptoms. Another excellent on-the-go product is Vet's Best Seasonal Allergy Dog Support Treats. When given to your dog once a day, these treats boost histamine levels to help curb allergy symptoms.
If your dog's symptoms persist, consider trying Benadryl after first consulting with your veterinarian. Regardless of which treatments you decide to use, it is best to ask the vet which ones are safe for your pet and how to give the proper dose. If the problem is particularly severe, your veterinarian may prescribe steroids, strong antihistamines, or allergy shots.
Above anything, you want your pet to be comfortable and happy. If you notice him showing signs of an allergy problem, the best time to find the source and treat it is now. Being diligent means you'll spend less time at the veterinarian's office and more time enjoying the sunny weather with your dog.