Spring Allergies in Dogs

Spring allergies can affect both dogs and people, causing allergy attacks for several weeks as the seasons change and the weather warms. Although your dog’s symptoms may differ from yours, both of you may find relief with the use of medications or other steps you can take to alleviate spring allergens in your home.

Canine Spring Allergy Symptoms

Spring allergies are considered seasonal allergies in most parts of the country, and they cause symptoms during the spring months as plants begin to bloom and flea populations begin to develop.

In dogs, spring allergies can be classified into two categories: atopic allergies and flea allergies. Atopic allergies are allergies that cause a skin reaction from an inhaled allergen, such as pollen, house dust or mold. Flea allergies are caused by the dog’s body having a reaction to a protein in flea saliva, and it only takes a single flea bite to set off a reaction in a sensitive dog. Both are among the most common canine allergies, with atopic allergies affecting about 15 percent of American dogs and flea allergies affecting about 40 percent of American dogs.

Canine spring allergy symptoms can include itching, scratching, and biting and chewing on the legs and paws. In more extreme cases, hair loss and hot spots may develop as your dog continues to scratch at his skin. Your dog may also sneeze, cough or have watery eyes, although skin symptoms are more likely to occur than the typical human allergy symptoms.

Diagnosing Canine Spring Allergies

Your veterinarian may use a combination of skin and blood tests to diagnose your dog’s spring allergies. These tests are designed to cause an allergic reaction between an allergen and a sample of your dog’s blood or his skin. When an allergic reaction is created, your veterinarian can then formulate a treatment plan for your pet because he or she will know which allergens are causing the problem.

Canine Spring Allergy Treatments

The cause of your dog’s spring allergies will determine the course of treatment to relieve his symptoms. If his allergies are flea-based, you will need to treat both your dog and your home to eradicate fleas. If his allergies are atopic, you will need to try to remove as many allergens as possible from your home while treating your pet’s symptoms with medication, such as antihistamines or steroids.

Some dogs find relief from their itchy skin symptoms with more-frequent baths. Your veterinarian may recommend medicated shampoos or topical sprays that can help soothe your dog’s itchy skin, or you may find that a simple oatmeal bath helps eliminate the itch temporarily.

If your dog’s allergies are caused by pollen, you may need to invest in an air cleaner and install it in the room in which your dog spends most of his time. If your dog doesn’t have a particular room that’s his favorite, you may need to upgrade the filters in your home’s climate control system to high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which remove more airborne irritants than regular air filters.