The Struggle Is Real

Do Dogs Get Seasonal Allergies? How To Tell If The Pollen Is Getting To Your Pup

If you've got a sneezy, itchy, and butt-scooting doggo, here's what you need to know.

Originally Published: 
Labrador retriver with chihuahua snot in blooming crocuses. Outdoor photo photo
Anita Kot/Moment/Getty Images

Allergies are the worst. As soon as the flowers start blooming and the weather warms up, chances are you and your kids have to deal with runny noses and itchy eyes. But does your pup really have to deal with seasonal allergies, too? For some dogs, the answer is (surprisingly) yes. Dogs can develop seasonal allergies that make them just as miserable as the rest of your family when the pollen count starts soaring.

Just like your kiddos, pups get extra excited during the springtime. There’s just no way to resist the combination of fresh grass and sunshine after a long winter stuck mostly indoors. They want to get out there, roll around in the dandelions, and bury their noses in your newly bloomed garden.

Some dogs (like some lucky humans) can enjoy all of the perks of the seasons changing without dealing with any nasty side effects. But for other pups, the influx of pollen, dust, mold, and new grass can lead to a sneezy and itchy four-legged member of your family.

Read on for a rundown of the symptoms your dog may experience if they’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, how to help them get through the changing seasons, and when you should consult your veterinarian.

What symptoms do dogs with seasonal allergies display?

Interestingly, dogs and humans display many of the same symptoms when it comes to seasonal allergies. The most significant difference is your dog’s symptoms are more likely to manifest via skin irritation. Here are a few signs that your doggo is dealing with seasonal allergies:

  • Increased scratching, biting, and licking. Allergies make a dog’s skin extra itchy, so they do whatever they can to stop the irritation. Unfortunately, all of their scratching and biting only worsen things, leading to red and aggravated skin. If your pup’s paws, underarms, groin area, or muzzle start looking red, you’re likely dealing with allergies.
  • Sneezing and clear, runny nose. Sneezing and a clear runny nose are other tell-tale signs your dog’s immune system is overreacting to an allergen.
  • Red eyes. Yep, your pup also has to deal with red, burning eyes... and they can’t even rub them.
  • Ear infections/red ears. This symptom is one to be on the lookout for if your dog routinely develops ear infections.
  • Excessive shedding. A sudden increase in shedding could be another sign of skin irritation, and it shouldn’t be ignored.
  • The dreaded butt scoot. If Fido is dragging his butt across your carpet, he’s not being rude. He’s just trying to get some relief for his itchy anal glands.
  • Coughing or breathing issues. These symptoms are more common in cats (who can also get seasonal allergies!) but can also affect dogs. It’s always a good idea to take your dog to the vet if they display any respiratory symptoms.

What causes seasonal allergies in dogs?

Both humans and dogs have sensitive immune systems. When their immune system comes into contact with things like pollen, dust mites, and mold, it tends to overreact. Hence the sneezing, itchy, and general unpleasantness that comes with allergy season.

How can you relieve seasonal allergies in dogs?

Again, when it comes to seasonal allergies, dogs and humans aren’t so different. If symptoms are mild, your vet may recommend an over-the-counter allergy medication like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), or Claritin (loratadine). However, pet owners should be extremely careful when giving their dogs OTC allergy medicines. Never give your pup a decongestant or anything containing pseudoephedrine, found in meds like Claritin-D, which can be fatal to dogs.

Talk to your vet first and see what type of medicine and dosage they recommend before introducing a new pill to your pet. There are also prescription allergy medicines explicitly made for dogs that your vet can prescribe, like Apoquel.

If your pup’s allergies are more severe, the vet may recommend allergy testing and prescribe allergy injections that can be given at home or the veterinarian’s office. It’s also possible that switching to a food formulated specifically for skin health will improve their condition, but that’s another question that you should pose to your vet.

How can you stop your dog’s seasonal allergies before they start?

Eliminating seasonal allergies entirely without some sort of treatment is unlikely. But there are things you can do to make Fido’s life (and yours) a little bit easier when allergy season hits.

  • Wipe your dog’s paws, legs, and body with a hypoallergenic, unscented wipe before they come into the house after playing outside. This not only helps keep allergens off their skin, but it also prevents them from spreading pollen throughout your home.
  • Give your pup a weekly bath using a dog shampoo with skin-soothing oatmeal as an ingredient.
  • Limit time outside on days when the pollen count is high.

Remember, your pup isn’t so different from the rest of your family when it comes to developing allergies. If you notice your dog scratching, licking, or generally looking miserable when the weather changes, it’s time for a trip to the vet.

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