Inhalant Allergies in Dogs

Learn all you need to know about inhalant allergies in dogs. Discover symptoms, possible allergens, when to contact your veterinarian and what you can do to ease your pet's ailments. Dogs face five allergy types:

  • Bacterial allergies
  • Contact allergies
  • Flea allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Inhalant allergies

Inhalant allergies are most common. These are allergens that the dog breathes in. Inhalant allergens range from plant pollen to household dust. Dogs often show signs of inhalant allergies in prime allergy season, when trees are budding and flowering, when grass is mowed, when basements become more humid or when rainfall doesn't seem to end and mold or mildew develop.

Common Symptoms in Inhalant Allergies in Dogs

Inhalant allergies in dogs present themselves in a number of ways. The most common symptom involves dry, itchy skin. You'll see the dog scratching in specific areas, including:

  • Abdomen
  • Anus
  • Armpits
  • Ears
  • Face
  • Legs

The itching often ceases when cortisone medications are given. Ignoring the itching isn't a good idea, because the dog can create open sores and cause excessive hair loss the more he itches certain areas.

Sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, coughing, runny nose and even wheezing may occur, though not as commonly. Thick eye discharge will often be seen. If the dog develops and swallows a lot of nasal mucus it can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

When to Contact a Veterinarian

If a dog is extremely itchy, it's best to call your vet. There are medications that help soothe the itching. The first goal of your vet will be to pinpoint the specific allergen. This is easier if the allergies always occur with a specific flower or tree's seasonal blooms. With seasonal allergies, if you can narrow down the exact allergen, eliminating exposure to that plant may help. You can do this by removing that plant from your yard and restricting your pet's outdoor time when that flower or tree is in bloom.

If the vet can't pinpoint a specific plant, he may have to test for allergens. It's important to note that some dogs have issues with more than one allergen, so finding the exact trigger may never occur. Year-round allergies tend to involve things like dust and dust mites, making it harder to avoid exposure.

Medications Used to Treat Allergies in Dogs

As the main complaint of inhalant allergies in dogs involves itchy, dry skin, corticosteroids such as Prednisone are prescribed. Prednisone helps reduce the body's inflammatory response, stopping the itchiness and inflammation by prompting the release of specific hormones. There are side effects with Prednisone, including excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, muscle weakness and suppression of the immune system.

Some dogs respond well to antihistamines. Antihistamines are generally safer than corticosteroids, so it's worth trying.

Topical shampoos and creams can help alleviate the itchy skin. You can't really wash your dog daily, however, because you don't want to strip the skin of natural oils.

Inhalant allergies may respond to allergy shots. Allergy shots are expensive and not always effective. Only one out of four dogs gain relief following allergy shots. Pet owners must give the allergy shots themselves and it can take up to a year for the shots to start working.