The snow is beginning to melt, and spring is in the air! Just like humans, dogs can experience seasonal allergies to certain factors in the environment. These allergies can range in severity and almost always cause discomfort.
Most dogs with allergies are genetically predisposed, meaning they have an increased likelihood of developing this condition based on their genetic makeup. Certain breeds are more likely to develop environmental allergies, such as retrievers, terriers, boxers and bulldogs, but any dog may develop them. Symptoms usually start anywhere between 1 and 6 years of age. Allergies cannot be cured, only controlled with treatment.
Common Allergens in Dogs
- Airborne Pollen
- Mold Spores
- Dust Mites
- Animal Dander
Unlike a runny nose and eyes as we get, the most common symptom of environmental allergies in dogs:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Inflammation of the skin to be itchy, therefore the dog will lick, scratch, and rub at the affected areas.
- We often see lesions around the ears, muzzle, groin, underarms, around the eyes, and paws/toes.
- These areas are often red and raw from excessive licking and scratching. If left untreated, these lesions can become infected with bacteria or yeast which in and of themselves can worsen the itch.
Controlling Environment Allergies
If you notice any of the above symptoms, we recommend bringing your dog in for a full physical exam and consultation with one of our veterinarians. Allergy testing is can be done to determine the exact allergens causing the condition, just like allergy testing in humans. Hyposensitization (allergy shots) are available based on what your dog is allergic to. If we cannot find the source of the allergy, or it cannot be avoided, the symptoms can be managed with a variety of medications, diets, shampoos and skin supplements. With proper management, your dog can live a happy, comfortable and relatively normal life!
Written by Danielle Valiquet, RVT