Three of the most common dog seasonal allergies are triggered by flea saliva, food, or things found in the environment. An allergy caused by environmental factors is called environmental allergy or atopy. It flares up when your dog is exposed to elements in the surroundings that he or she is sensitive to. These allergens can be present indoors (such as smoke, dust mites, a particular fabric, dander, or mold) or can come from outdoors (such as pollen, spores, grass, dust, or smog).
Certain breeds are genetically susceptible to environmental allergies, including Retrievers, German Shepherds, Boxers, Pugs, Terriers, and Bulldogs.
It does not mean, of course, that other dog breeds are exempt from this condition. It’s just that the mentioned breeds have these issues more often than the others.
Environmental Allergy Symptoms
Exposure to allergens prompts a dog’s immune system to overprotectively respond and release excessive amounts of chemicals called histamines. This overreaction causes a host of allergy symptoms.
One typical dog allergic reaction is intense itching, and this is frequently the first sign that calls your attention.
That’s when you notice the rashes and inflamed skin. Dogs will not stop scratching, and they’ll do this while also licking and chewing on their itchy body parts. This worsens the initial symptoms and almost always results to open wounds, swollen paws, irritated ears or face, hair loss, and even infection.
As you can see, the symptoms of atopy are very similar to those of common dog food allergies. They normally manifest on the ears, head, body, and paws.
Environmental Allergy Treatment
Identifying the allergen that your dog reacts to normally requires several testing procedures. Pet allergy treatment depends so much on the result of these tests to be truly effective. Here are some of the allergy treatments that your dog’s veterinarian may prescribe:
- Antihistamines – counter the effects of histamines and reduce itching.
- Steroids – suppress the immune system so that it stops overreacting and producing histamines and the symptoms.
- Antibiotic or antifungal medications – also used when bacterial or fungal infections have developed from the initial symptoms.
- Immunotherapy – this treatment involves administering regular allergy shots for dogs, however this treatment could take up to 6-12 months to show improved results. This is the course of action following an intradermal skin testing where your dog’s allergen is identified. The allergy shots are specially formulated from the allergen or allergens and given to your dog in small amounts to desensitize your dog’s immune system to the allergens. Research has shown great results for this treatment.
It must be noted that environmental allergies or dog seasonal allergies can get worse as your pet grows older.
If antihistamines are effective for your dog in the early stages, these medications will eventually lose their effectiveness as your dog’s allergy progresses. Steroids, on the other hand, may lead to serious health issues and weaken the immune system with prolonged use. And we know the problem with repeated use of antibiotics – certain strains of bacteria build resistance to them.
Immunotherapy would be the long-term solution to a dog with severe environmental allergies. If your dog looks like it has a severe case of allergy, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian about this option.
Long-term Care for Dog Seasonal Allergies
Once your dog has survived an episode of environmental allergy, it’s a good time to plan about preventing or having fewer episodes in the future. Like all dog seasonal allergies, the key is preventing exposure to the allergen and being proactive about your dog’s condition.
Don’t wait for that intense scratching before taking action.
Here are some tips:
- Regularly bathe your dog using a vet-approved shampoo.
- Give your dog a thorough wipe down or foot bath after an outdoor activity. This helps remove foreign matters, like grass or pollen, from its feet and body.
- We also suggest regularly checking for red rash on dog or bumps on dogs back. You’d want to treat the earliest signs of allergy, instead of waiting for the moment when your dog already starts to scratch uncontrollably.
- Have your dog be regularly seen by a veterinarian or healthcare provider.
- Sometimes environmental allergies and food allergies occur together. So even if you suspect one to be your dog’s condition, don’t discount the possibility of the other.
- Ask your dog’s veterinarian how Omega 3 or other supplements can help your dog’s allergy condition.
Managing environmental allergies in dogs and living the quality of life that you and your pet deserve will require a bit more than your usual commitment, but it’s definitely not impossible.