Dust Allergy Symptoms in Dogs

Dust allergy symptoms differ between dogs and people. While people are more likely to show nasal or respiratory symptoms when their dust allergy flares up, dogs are more likely to develop skin problems. Dust allergies and other allergies caused by inhaled particles that cause skin reactions are called atopic allergies, and they are the most second most common type of canine allergy, affecting up to 15 percent of American dogs.

Canine Dust Allergy Symptoms

Although dust allergies can develop in dogs of any age, they are most likely to develop when your dog is 1 to 3 years old. At first, atopic allergies are often seasonal, but they become more year-round as a dog ages. Unfortunately, dust allergy is likely to always be a year-round atopic allergy for affected dogs. They are exposed to it throughout the year, rather than seasonally, as is the case with pollens, grasses and fleas (at least in some parts of the country).

Signs of a dust allergy can include constant chewing and scratching of the feet and legs, frequent rubbing of the head and muzzle against the floor or furniture, head shaking, irritated skin and incessant scratching. His ears may become irritated or infected because the glands in his ears overproduce wax as part of his overall reaction to the allergen.

Over time, your dog may develop bald spots in his coat or secondary skin infections as a result of his constant scratching. His skin may also become crusty, dry or oily as a result of the combination of his allergies and his overzealous scratching to relieve the itchy skin.

How to Treat Canine Dust Allergies

Treating your dog's dust allergy requires a combination of medication to help him feel better. He may need antihistamines or other medication from your veterinarian, or he may benefit from creams or sprays to soothe his irritated skin. Frequent baths may help reduce or eliminate household dust on his coat.

Changes in your home environment can help control your dog's dust allergy, too. A main component of dust is dust mites, small creatures that are relatives of spiders. The mites thrive in hot, humid conditions, so reducing the interior temperature of your home below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and maintaining a relative humidity below 70 percent will reduce the number of dust mites, which should reduce the overall amount of dust in your home.

Here are some other dust-reducing changes to consider in your home routine:

  • Add a HEPA air cleaner to the room where your dog spends most of his time.
  • Have your home's air ducts cleaned.
  • Install a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter in your home's climate control system.
  • Replace carpeting with sheet vinyl, tile or wooden floors if allergies continue to be a problem.
  • Vacuum frequently, and consider a HEPA filter for your vacuum.
  • Wash your dog's bedding each week in hot water and dry it thoroughly before returning it to him.