How To Tell If Your Dog Has Seasonal Allergies 

Dr. Landon Bunderson

PHD, Pollination Ecology

Gesundheit, Pooch!

Is your dog sneezing, gnawing on his/her paws, or agitated? Do you notice watery eyes or red ears? It might have seasonal allergies.

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from seasonal and environmental allergies. The difference is, your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong and this makes it hard to determine the best response. Before we dive into that discussion, let’s learn a little more about allergies.

Straight Talk On Allergies

Allergic reactions occur when your body or your pet’s body is sensitive to allergens in the air or the environment. Dust and pollen, for example, are common allergens. These allergens cause a reaction but aren’t typically dangerous to humans or dogs. 

However, your immune system doesn’t know this. It thinks the allergens are harmful and reacts in a way to protect you from them. The body releases histamines, which cause inflammation, swelling, and itching. 

This inflammation manifests as the signs we typically associate with allergies, i.e. sneezing, wheezing, runny or stuffy nose, red or runny eyes. 

What’s Causing My Dog’s Allergies?

Dogs, like humans, can be allergic to different things. A short list of some of the possible environmental allergens includes: 

• Pollen

• Grass

• Weeds

• Mold

• Fungi

• Flea saliva

Dogs can also be allergic to different foods. So, your dog could be allergic to something in the air or on its body or it could be allergic to something it has eaten. Take your dog to the vet for a diagnosis and to find out the best form of treatment for him or her. 

What Are The Signs My Dog May Have Allergies?

A dog reacts to allergies somewhat differently than a human does. Your dog may scratch or bite, trying to relieve the itching. You may also notice redness or inflammation in the nose and ear areas. 

Other symptoms may include: 

• Watery eyes

• Runny nose

• Sneezing

• Difficulty Breathing

• Itchy or flaky skin 

• Hair loss 

• Itching 

• Ear infections

• Shaking their head

• Scratching one or both ears

• Smelly and/or red ears

• Licking of the paws and anus

• Patchy skin or skin irregularities

What You Can Do

If you believe your dog has allergies, take the animal to your vet. Your vet can help identify which allergens are causing the problems and prescribe or recommend antihistamines to help alleviate symptoms. 

Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec are often recommended. These are typically safe for dogs, but every dog will react differently, some becoming drowsy and others becoming hyperactive. Watch your dog carefully after giving him or her medicine. 

If you decide to get an over-the-counter medicine for your dog, check the label to make sure it doesn’t have decongestants or pseudoephedrine, because these ingredients are NOT safe for dogs. 

Because the dosage is different for dogs than for humans, talk to your vet about what to give, how much, and how often. 

If your dog has allergens in its fur or on the body, bathing the animal frequently can also be beneficial. There are also prescription medications that treat itching and rashes. 

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