Spring means blooming gardens, warming weather, dog park play dates, and…sneezing. If all those spring flowers have you searching for your allergy medication, you’re not the only one. In fact, a whopping 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and many of our pets have seasonal allergies, too. Dogs can suffer from “hay fever” for the same reasons that humans do: an overactive immune system.
Research estimates that just about 15% of dogs have seasonal allergies, in fact. The most common culprits behind seasonal allergies in your pet include pollen, mold, and dust mites.
Dogs can be allergic to many things, not just environmental irritants. Among potential allergens for dogs you’ll find certain foods, insects like fleas and mites, chemicals and synthetic substances. So how do you know if your dog’s scratching is caused by seasonal allergies, and what can you do about it? We’ve got the scoop on how to spot the symptoms of hay fever in dogs and how to give your dog some relief.
You’ll know it’s a true allergy if any of these signs sound familiar, and if so, a trip to your vet is in order.
A tree pollen allergy will be most noticeable in the spring, so if your dog is extra-itchy in April but not in November, that could be why. Conversely, a ragweed allergy is likely to crop up in the fall months. If your dog is sensitive to dust mites, you could expect to see symptoms intensifying in the winter (because we’re indoors more often at that time).
If your dog gets hotspots, ear infections, itchy skin, or watery eyes at only one time of year, this is a sign of seasonal allergies. These reactions can intensify over time, too, and grow increasingly worse the more that your dog is exposed to the allergens. In other words, a puppy who gets itchy paws when she plays in a field could see worsening hotpots from grass exposure over time.
Major symptoms of allergies in dogs
Besides the seasonal question, look carefully at your dog’s behavior over time. If wondering whether your dog is allergic, then first and foremost, keep an eye out for excessive scratching. We’re not talking about your average scratch session: allergy-related scratching is nearly constant and doesn’t seem to provide relief from the itching.
In particular, keep an eye out for itchiness in your dog’s ears, at the base of their tail, or in their eyes. Your allergic dog might be chewing on sensitive spots, or rubbing against furniture or the carpet, in addition to scratching.
Beyond lots of scratching, these behaviors can indicate that your dog is allergic to something in her environment:
- Extra licking
- Chewing on paws
Also look for runny or swollen eyes and especially irritated skin. Sometimes, scabbing or other infections occur as a result of complications due to dog allergies.
Testing and treatment for canine allergies
If you’re wondering whether your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, an allergy test can help confirm your suspicions. Yes, dogs can get tested for allergies just like we can. Depending on the type and severity of your dog’s allergies, treatment can range from soothing measures like a humidifier or topical spray to prescription allergy medications and regular allergy shots.
Monitor Pollen Levels
If you discover that your dog has the sniffles during certain seasons, make sure to tell anyone who regularly cares for your pet, including your pet sitter or dog walker.
As soon as you know about your dog’s specific allergies, you can monitor local allergen levels and keep your pet indoors on high-level days. If hay fever is keeping you both indoors more, at least there’s the silver lining of extra couch snuggles. Seriously, those are proven to make both you and your dog feel better.
Ailments like chronic allergies can be easily treated after a visit to the vet and putting in place some preventative measures. Simple grooming measures can help to alleviate seasonal allergies in your pet. Try wiping down your pet’s paws after a walk to remove pollens and dander. Regular bathing also helps remove environmental irritants. Vacuuming, using an air filter, and frequent washing of your pet’s bedding can help reduce their exposure to allergens, as well.
Pet health insurance can cover your pet’s visits to the vet and prescriptions for allergies. Enroll your pet early—before your dog starts exhibiting symptoms, as no pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions. Treatments for allergies can be lifelong and expensive, and if you sign up for pet insurance before your pet is sick, treatment will be covered. Start by getting a free quote today.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, the no. 1 customer-rated provider of insurance for dogs and cats in the U.S. As a pet health insurance company, they see many claims come through for common accidents and illnesses, including allergies. By insuring your pet, you can say yes to many quality of life-boosting treatments. It’s one preventative measure that will help in the long run.