Does My Dog Have Seasonal Allergies?

Many people spend spring with itchy eyes and a runny nose, thanks to the blooming landscape. And our canine friends might be struggling with the same allergens — just with their own set of symptoms. Here are nine signs of seasonal allergies in dogs.

1. A pattern to the symptoms

This sounds like the most obvious sign, but it actually can be the most helpful for a proper diagnosis. Seasonal allergies in dogs often mimic other allergies and health issues, sometimes with almost identical symptoms. So noting a seasonal pattern to your dog’s symptoms might end up being how you finally diagnose them.

“Some of the common causes of seasonal allergies include dust, dust mites, pollen, grass and flea bites,” according to PetMD. Depending on what your dog is allergic to, allergies typically occur in the spring when things are blooming and throughout the warmer months. But if you live in a warm climate where plants bloom year-round, the allergies might persist for most or all of the year. Plus, seasonal allergies might become chronic in older dogs. So noting a pattern can help, but it’s not always an option.

2. Itchiness

Extreme itchiness is a telltale sign of allergies in a dog. “Environmental allergies, or atopy, are the second-most common cause of itchy skin in dogs after flea allergy dermatitis,” according to VetStreet. “Although it is hard to know exactly how many dogs suffer from atopy, recent studies estimate the prevalence at about 10 percent of the canine population.”

Again, you might notice your dog scratching or biting their skin only during certain times of the year, which strongly suggests seasonal allergies. They might focus on spots that most frequently come in contact with environmental allergens, including their paws, stomach and face. If this is the case, a bath with a gentle shampoo might help to temporarily relieve symptoms, as it washes off pollen and other potential allergens. Still, if your dog is extremely itchy, it’s important to get them to the vet as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

3. Paw licking

dog licking pawCredit: Pekic/Getty Images

Excessive paw licking is another classic sign of canine allergies — both when they pick up environmental allergens and also when they ingest them. “Allergic skin disease is the most common reason why canines lick and chew their feet on a chronic basis,” according to VetStreet. “Food allergies, in particular, are typically the culprit, and secondary infections from yeast and bacteria can further exacerbate the behavior.”

Licking also can arise from a foreign body, such as a thorn, lodged in their paw. Plus, the dog might have experienced an injury or some other paw-related ailment — or even developed an obsessive behavior. And because excessive chewing and licking of the paws can lead to secondary infections, it’s important not to ignore the behavior.

4. Face rubbing and/or rear scooting

Dogs who are feeling itchy due to allergies also might show it by rubbing their faces on the ground and/or scooting their rears — responses related to the histamines the immune system triggers. “If your pet is scooting around on his rear end, he’s probably feeling an unpleasant itchiness,” PetMD says. “All of these histamine reactions are similar to sneezing or tearing up in humans.”

But don’t jump right to giving your dog Benadryl and assuming they’ll be fine. “[Antihistamine medications] tend to be less effective in dogs than in people, and you should always proceed with caution,” according to PetMD. Consult your vet on the best course of action, and remind them if your dog takes any other medications.

5. Fur loss

An increase in shedding — which might lead to some bald patches or thinning fur — is another sign of seasonal allergies in dogs. “Dandruff is also a common side effect of allergies, since they can severely dry out the skin and cause it to flake,” according to PetMD.

Your dog might lose fur from excessive itching and biting, thanks to their allergies. But there’s a chance you’ll see some fur loss even if you don’t notice any abnormal itching. Plus, fur loss can be a symptom of several other health issues, including parasites and hypothyroidism. In any case, if your dog is losing fur, a vet visit is in order.

6. Inflamed or infected skin

dog itching in grassCredit: Christian Buch/Getty Images

“One of the more serious side effects of allergies in pets is a skin infection, which is usually related to chronic scratching,” according to PetMD. All that itching, biting and licking can inflame the skin and cause broken areas that become infected. And it might then turn into a vicious circle if your dog starts licking the wound and preventing it from healing.

If you notice minor irritation on your dog’s skin, keep the area clean and dry. You also can try soothing it with natural, dog-safe products, such as coconut oil, PetMD says. But if the irritation is severe, doesn’t clear up within 48 hours or your dog is acting off, it’s likely time to see the vet.

7. Ear infections

In addition to skin infections, a dog with allergies also might develop secondary ear infections — as the ears are another typical site for itching. Excessive head shaking and inflamed ears are common symptoms of an ear infection in a dog, according to PetMD. And for many dogs, the infections can become chronic.

Ear infections also are common with food allergies in dogs. And in general, certain dog breeds — especially those with floppy ears, such as basset hounds — are more susceptible to them. So while you’re treating the infection, it’s important to determine the root cause to break the chronic cycle.

8. Respiratory issues

Unlike in humans, respiratory issues aren’t a very common symptom of seasonal allergies in dogs. But they are still possible. “In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing,” according to VCA Hospitals. “Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from the eyes or nose.”

Still, when most dogs inhale allergens, they primarily manifest through the skin. But respiratory distress is not something to ignore. It might be a sign of anaphylaxis from a reaction to an insect bite, for instance. So no matter what, respiratory issues aren’t normal and should be checked by a vet as soon as possible.

9. Other allergies

Labrador retriever eatingCredit: Chalabala/Getty Images

Allergies in dogs are common and occur across all breeds. Some might be genetic, as well. “Most allergies appear after the pet is six months of age, with the majority of affected dogs over age one or two,” according to VCA Hospitals.

Even if your dog has clear symptoms of allergies, the trigger still might be difficult to determine. And that’s in part because many dogs have multiple allergies. “Approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas,” PetMD says. So if you already know your dog has one type of allergy, keep the possibility of other allergies on your radar.

Main image credit: JLSnader/Getty Images

49 comments

Barbara S
Barbara S3 days ago

Thank you for posting

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Christine V
Christine V4 days ago

My dog gets allergy shots for her allergies.

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Leo C
Leo C6 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Thomas M
Thomas M7 days ago

tyfs

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Hannah A
Hannah A7 days ago

Thank you

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Angela K
Angela K7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H11 days ago

thanks

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Tanya W
Tanya W11 days ago

Good to know

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Tanya W
Tanya W11 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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