Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Allergies are not exclusive to humans. Dogs can develop seasonal allergies just like we do. The most common symptoms can include itching, scratching, chewing, licking, and red, irritated skin. Seasonal allergies in dogs are usually caused by environmental allergens brought by season changes. Being seasonal means the allergen can happen several times throughout the year. If you suspect your dog has seasonal allergies, it is best to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. And here are something you should know to help you deal with seasonal allergies in dogs.
Various factors can decide the symptoms of seasonal allergy, including the specific allergen your dog has contacted and the immune system of your dog. Some most common symptoms include:
Itching, scratching, and biting at the skin
Red, irritated skin
Chewing and licking paws
Sneezing and runny nose
Watery, itchy eyes
Infections of ears, eyes, or skin
Hot spots or hair loss
Diarrhea and vomiting
These are all symptoms that can be easily spotted. So keep an eye on them, especially during season changes. But these symptoms can also be triggered by other conditions, so it's always best to consult a veterinarian.
You may wonder what are the causes of the allergies and whether you can avoid them. When foreign substances contact with or enter your body, the antibodies, which are naturally produced by our immune system, will react to them. If the antibodies think that the intruder is harmful, they will cause a series of reactions that lead to allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergies in dogs are often caused by allergens such as:
Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds
Keeping away from these allergens and doing regular cleaning can greatly reduce the risk of seasonal allergens. It's also worth mentioning that, just like humans, genetics can play a role in a dog's susceptibility to seasonal allergies, and some dogs may be predisposed to developing them.
The most common treatments for seasonal allergies in dogs include:
Environmental control: As is said above, keeping away from allergens as much as possible may be the most fundamental and effective solution to the problem. You can minimize exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed during high pollen times, using air filters, and regular bathing and grooming your dogs.
Medications: Anti-histamines, corticosteroids, and other medications can help relieve itching and other allergy symptoms in dogs.
Allergy shots: Allergy shots, also known as Allergy therapy or immunotherapy, can help reduce a dog's sensitivity to allergens over time by injecting increasing amounts of allergen into your dog.
Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids and other supplements can help reduce itching and improve skin health in some dogs with allergies.
Medication is probably the most commonly used and cost-effective choice for seasonal allergy treatment. However, we must be aware that many of these medications have side effects and must be used carefully and precisely. The ICADA (the International Committee on Allergic Diseases of Animals) doesn’t recommend using the medication as the only source of treatment. A treatment plan that involves the combination of multiple approaches is preferred. So it's necessary to work with a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your dog's specific needs.
In addition to these treatments, some home remedies can also provide relief for mild symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs. The following are some home remedies that can help:
Bathing: Regular baths with a soothing shampoo can help reduce itching and remove allergens from the skin. Be very careful with your choice of shampoos and conditioners. Normally, products with natural ingredients like aloe vera, almond oil, oatmeal, or Vitamin E are less hypoallergenic. An oatmeal bath can help soothe itchy skin and provide relief for mild symptoms. On contrary, products with many chemicals or with artificial perfumes are likely to aggravate the symptoms
Diet changes: A change in diet, such as switching to a hypoallergenic food, can help relieve symptoms in some dogs with food allergies. Adding fish oil or coconut oil to your dog's food is also helpful in improving skin health and reducing itching. Meanwhile, a higher-quality diet will boost your dogs’ immune system so that they won’t overreact to allergens.
Herbs: Some herbs, such as chamomile, green tea, and aloe vera, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe irritated skin.
Apple cider vinegar: Adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your dog's drinking water can help balance the skin's pH and reduce itching.
Home remedies may be enough to relieve mild symptoms. But in severe cases, home remedies may not be very effective. Then veterinary care is necessary and the home remedies should only be considered supplements rather than alternatives to the professional treatments you are prescribed with. And it's important to monitor your dog for any worsening of symptoms and to stop using home remedies if they seem to be having an adverse effect.