Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes? Nope, we’re not talking about your latest bout of hay fever, we’re talking about those oddly familiar symptoms your pooch has started to exhibit. And make no mistake, they’re as troublesome for him as that runny nose is for you.
Yes, your pets can be susceptible to seasonal allergies and while there’s no silver bullet that’s going to cure a dripping nose, there are steps you can take to help alleviate the discomfort. The first, is to understand what causes allergies, the second is to recognize some of the obvious (and not so obvious) symptoms, and the third is to check out some of the relief options available to your pet.
So, just like humans, seasonal allergies in dogs happen when they either come into contact with or inhale, something that’s sets them off. And because we’re talking “seasonal” allergies, it’s typically going to be related to tree, weed, or grass pollen, flea bites, mold, or dust mites. All that stuff that happens when seasons change and new triggers emerge – specifically, spring and fall.
Now, those strong physical reactions are caused when your pet’s natural immune system has become intolerant of the allergens and its natural protective mechanism kicks in – inflammation. And just like with humans, your dog’s system doesn’t become immune to those allergen triggers over time, it becomes less tolerant. So, let’s get your plan in place.
One of the more obvious clues that your pet is dealing with seasonal allergies is coughing wheezing, and sneezing that remains ongoing. For cats, it can turn into feline asthma, and result in some pretty messy sneezing as the congestion builds. With anything related to respiration, its important to get your pet into the vet for an official diagnosis of allergies.
As you scratch a mosquito bite, a dog will bite and scratch in order to relieve the itch that some allergies can cause. Before he scratches himself raw, try bathing him with a gentle shampoo to help alleviate the itching. In cases where a mild infection has set in, look for a medicated shampoo. If it becomes worse, begins to smell, or is impacting your dog’s appetite, get him in to the vet.
Grooming his paws is part of your dog’s natural cleaning ritual, however if its obsessive (as in, every time he lies down, he’s worrying the tops and pads of his feet), it may be down to allergies. Its related to when the antigen and antibodies in his immune system react with mast cells to release super potent chemicals – histamines. They cause local itching, swelling and redness. Hence the paw licking, face rubbing, and ear shaking.
We’ve all seen it, but do we know what causes your dog to drag his butt across the floor, carpet, deck, or any other place that just feel right? Well, similar to the paw licking, its down to itchiness and is likely caused by those histamines that are brought about by allergies.
Once diagnosed there are a few routes you can take:
Mary Simpson is a writer and communications professional from Port Credit, Ontario. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include Schnoodles, Lexie and Ruby James as well as tuxedo Simon, and ginger Harry. She enjoys running, politics, exploring the wine regions of Niagara and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.