Ditch the Itch! Treating Your Dog’s Seasonal Allergies

 Dog with seasonal allergies itching in grass

Reviewed by Dr. Kevin Kreier

All dogs itch. But how do you know when it’s more than just an itch?

Dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies just as we do. But while our allergy symptoms usually involve respiratory issues, dog allergies result in skin irritation or inflammation, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs as well as how you can help relieve their itching.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Seasonal Allergies

Itching in dogs can be caused by fleas, food, or environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, or dust mites. The four most common allergies in dogs are:

  • Inhalant Allergies (environmental indoor and outdoor allergies)
  • Contact Allergies (carpet, deodorant, shampoo, insecticidal products, etc.)
  • Flea Allergies
  • Food Allergies

A wide variety of allergens can cause an inhalant allergy in dogs, otherwise known as atopy. The allergic response occurs when an affected dog inhales dust, pollens, or molds. A dog with atopy is usually itchy during specific seasons of the year; seasonal allergies and atopy are two ways to describe the same type of allergic skin disease in dogs.

If your dog gets itchy in early spring, he or she is likely reacting to tree pollen. In late spring and early summer, it’s grass pollen. Finally, during the late summer and early fall months, the main allergen is weeds.

In addition to itching, here are behaviors and symptoms you will likely see in your dog with seasonal allergies:

  • Excessive licking, chewing, biting, or scratching
  • Excessive rolling, rubbing, or scooting
  • Foot chewing
  • Hair loss
  • Recurrent ear problems
  • Redness of the skin or changes in the skin, such as sores or darkened color
  • Body odor, which indicates a secondary infection from bacteria or yeasts

Your dog is trying to relieve the itch in any way he or she can. But as the itch cycle continues, the skin becomes inflamed and tender, causing additional problems. You’ll find yourself needing to treat sores and hot spots as well as the underlying cause of the itch.

How to Help Your Dog with Seasonal Allergies

Only your veterinarian can help determine the underlying cause of your dog’s itch, so a vet appointment is the best first step in helping your dog. Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription medication to treat the itching associated with your dog’s seasonal allergies.

At Badger Veterinary Hospital, your veterinarian will recommend one of two medications:

  • Apoquel is a fast-acting tablet used for the control of itch associated with allergic skin disease and for control of atopic skin disease in dogs. It reduces itching and decreases the associated inflammation, redness, or swelling of the skin.
  • Cytopoint is an injection given by your veterinarian for the treatment of canine atopic dermatitis, a common allergic skin disease that makes your dog more likely to have a strong reaction to allergens. It targets the itch at its source and relieves dogs for a month or longer with a single injection.

In addition to medication to relieve the itch, it’s a good idea to reduce the allergens clinging to your dog or entering your home. When your dog comes in after a good romp around outside, wipe his or her paws to remove pollen residue. You might consider more frequent baths for your dog for the same reason. Also, avoid tracking allergens into the house by removing your shoes at the door.

Do you have questions or concerns about your dog’s itching? Call today to schedule an appointment with a Badger Veterinary Hospital veterinarian!