The reactions dogs have to allergens can differ slightly from those experienced in humans. Your dog may scratch or lick themselves repeatedly, develop itchy, red swollen eyes, discharge from the nose, fits of sneezing. In some cases, dogs can suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting or secondary infection may appear.
The amount of itching your pet may experience can range from mild to excessive, and is most common within the armpit, chest and paw areas. Left untreated, the itching can lead to your dog scratching skin until raw, increasing the risk of infection. If you notice your dog has been scratching or licking its skin more than normal, it’s important to contact your veterinarian. If the wound becomes infected, it will have an odour and discharge.
A common reaction to allergies is excessive licking of the paws, this occurs because a dog’s body naturally pushes histamines to the paws, which are chemicals that the body releases into the bloodstream when the immune system is defending against an allergen.
Although less common, some dogs can experience respiratory issues when suffering from allergies, these can include coughing, wheezing, sneezing and difficulty breathing.
Other symptoms include;
• Shedding and loss of hair - worsened by excessive itching and skin infections
• Scooting or itchy anus - as the body pushes histamine through the extremities
• Ear infections - displayed by head shaking, red and waxy ears and discomfort
What causes seasonal allergies in dogs?
Seasonal allergies are caused by substances that live in your home, garden and other places you visit with your canine companion. Common triggers for allergic reactions that your dog may face include dust, pollen, mould spores, plants or animal fibres.
These allergens are inhaled or absorbed into the skin when your dog comes into contact with them. A big misconception around allergies is that they only occur during spring and summer when plants are in bloom and the pollen levels are high, but there is a large number of plants that pollinate during autumn, including weeds, certain trees and grass.
How can seasonal allergies be prevented?
There are a few different things you can do to help control the discomfort your dog may be experiencing due to seasonal allergies and reduce the risk of a more serious problem.
Change your daily walking routine - Avoid walking your dog early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as during this time pollen levels are at the highest. If possible, pick a different time and steer clear of fields, long grass and areas with plants.
Keep your dog’s space clean - A weekly hot wash and hoover of your dog’s bed, blankets, soft toys and favourite places to relax will help to clear allergens. For extra safety, consider covering your chairs and bed with blankets so they can be easily removed for washing.
Clean the air and surfaces - Putting a dehumidifier into your home will help to remove moisture from the air, making it harder for mould to grow. Vacuum and polish the floors and surfaces to remove the build-up of dust and pollen.
Remove excess allergens - Frequently bathe your dog with shampoo, or use dog-friendly hypoallergenic wipes to clean their paw pads and fur,and wipe gently around the face and eyes to remove any allergens picked up.
Add a supplement to their diet - Try adding a skin supplement or oil into your dog feeding routine. like omega-3 or omega-6. Adding these will help to strengthen their skin’s barrier and reduce the symptoms of pollen allergies- including itchiness-and will help to improve overall skin health.