For some people, seasonal allergies are a real pain. Whether you’re bothered by a runny nose, itchy eyes, or endless sneezing, it can be a tough time of year to endure.
Just like their human parents, some dogs suffer from the aggravating effects of seasonal allergies as well. Besides chemicals such as those found in household cleaning products, cigarette smoke and certain perfumes, dogs can also be allergic to natural, seasonal substances. This can include plant and tree pollens, mold spores, dust, feathers and fleas.
A dog’s allergy symptoms are generally similar to those experienced by humans: the immune system overreacts to one or more offending substances, leading to itchiness and irritation. Your dog may lick or scratch themselves, develop irritated eyes, or sneeze repeatedly. Some dogs experience itchy, swollen skin, while others suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. In certain cases, a secondary infection may develop.
Here are a few things you should to do to help control any discomfort your dog may be dealing with due to seasonal allergies, and reduce the risk of more serious problems.
Adapt your daily walk routine
If possible, avoid walking your dog in the early morning or late afternoon, when pollen levels are typically highest. Steer clear of fields and parks where offending plants are common, and consider an indoor, open-play setting like Dogtopia during the offending months.
When you return home, wipe your dog’s body and paws with a moist cloth or a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe from your local pet store. This will remove excess pollen and other allergens from your dog’s fur and skin without the hassle of a full bath. Pay special attention to the paws, as the sensitive skin here is often affected by allergens. Some pet parents soak their dog’s paws in apple cider vinegar to remove pollen and other substances. If using this method, mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar. Another solution is to put boots on your dog’s paws to prevent them from stepping in irritants and then tracking them into your house.
Clear the air…and other surfaces
Inside your home, regularly change air filters to cut down on airborne allergens that enter through open doors and windows. Running an air conditioner or a dehumidifier will help remove moisture from interior air, making it harder for mold to grow in your home. Minimize the amount of time your dog spends in damp environments, such as basements, bathrooms, or laundry rooms, as these places are more susceptible to mold growth. Vacuum at least once a week, and remember to clean curtains and rugs that may have picked up dust and pollen.
Don’t sleep on it
The surfaces your dog comes in contact with at bedtime can become covered in allergens, so make sure they’re kept clean by being washed in hot water every week. Consider putting towels or blankets on top of beds (yours and theirs) and chairs to make this task easier, and keep offending substances away from the surface underneath. Also, make sure any soft toys your dog plays with get washed regularly.
Jump in the bath
Prevent dry, itchy skin by giving your dog a bath more often with veterinarian advice. Wash their fur with a gentle, hypoallergenic anti-itch shampoo that contains a soothing ingredient such as oatmeal, aloe, or evening primrose oil. Some dog owners give their pet a 10-minute soak in a bath mixed with a gentle moisturizing oil. Consider taking your pup to the nearest Dogtopia to take advantage of our full-service doggie spa.
Supplement your dog’s diet
Try giving your dog a natural dietary supplement such as fish oil or a fatty acid such as omega-3 or omega-6 oil to reduce itchiness and improve overall skin health. Coconut oil has also been shown to suppress allergic reactions while contributing to healthier skin. Finally, make sure your dog’s drinking water (and bowl) are kept clean and are free of any contaminants.
If your dog won’t stop licking, scratching, and chewing, has red and irritated skin or hair loss, make an appointment to see your vet. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, a professional can provide more aggressive treatments such as antihistamines, steroids, or allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy.