Has your pup suddenly started to gnaw on their paws?

Is the sound of jangling tags from constant scratching driving you batty?

And what’s up with the watery eyes and incessant sneezing?

It sounds like seasonal allergies might be to blame for both of your woes.

Allergies in dogs are just as common as they are in humans, and they can cause your pup some serious discomfort, whether they’re seasonal or environmental.

Sad to say, identifying allergy symptoms in dogs isn’t always easy, and since our furry friends can’t tell us what’s wrong, it’s up to us pet parents to figure out how to help.

Let’s talk about how you can tell if your dog has allergies, and what kind they are…

What Are Dog Allergies?

According to the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), allergies in dogs are sensitivities to common environmental triggers like dust or pollen, and most aren’t overly harmful to dogs or humans.

But your pup’s immune system might disagree and react defensively to a generally harmless substance. 

Since your dog’s immune system is in place to protect them from disease and infection, normally that kind of reaction is a good thing, but when it comes to allergies, the canine immune system can actually do unintentional harm.

That’s because your pup’s immune system responds to the presence of allergens by releasing histamines which cause itching and inflammation, and that in turn causes the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs.

What Causes Dog Allergies?

Veterinarians at VCA Hospitals have noted some of the most common substances to cause allergic reactions in dogs. But just like humans,  every dog could be triggered by different allergens, so keep that in mind when researching your pup’s allergy issues.

A few of the most frequently seen environmental allergens for dogs are:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Fungus
  • Grass
  • Fleas

Dogs can have food allergies, as well, but we’re going to focus on seasonal allergies for now. Of course, if you notice any of the allergy symptoms below in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian to make sure your pup is diagnosed and treated properly.

How Common Are Dog Allergies?

Whether caused by environmental triggers or food, dog allergies are all too common of a problem for many pets and their parents. Unfortunately, that means it’s pretty likely your pup might be suffering from one type of allergy or another.

While any dog can develop allergies at any point, the Merck Vet Manual has stated there are certain breeds that are more likely to end up with allergies than others.

Some of the dog breeds that are predisposed to developing allergies include:

  • Boxers
  • Shih Tzus
  • Dalmations
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Boston Terriers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers

Now that you know just how common allergic reactions are in dogs, we’re going to show you how to recognize the signs and symptoms of pet allergies, so you can get your pup the help they need if they exhibit any of the following.

What Are the Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?

If you’re worried that your pup could be suffering from seasonal allergies, you should keep your eye out for any type of unusual and repetitive behavior, like sudden (and excessive) licking or scratching.

Some of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs are:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Paw licking
  • Head shaking
  • Ear scratching
  • Itchy and flaky skin
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Respiratory congestion

Keep in mind that every dog is different, so your pup’s allergy symptoms might not be on this list. But if your dog is suddenly acting unusually and has you concerned, you should reach out to your vet to see if they think allergies might be the culprit.

What's the Best Treatment for Dog Allergies?

Once you know your pup has seasonal allergies, your vet might recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec to help relieve some of the worst symptoms. 

Make sure to follow these OTC medication safety guidelines for dogs:

  • Always discuss dosing with your dog's doc - it's different for pups than humans!
  • Watch out for reactions like hyperactivity or drowsiness and adjust the dose.
  • Check all labels for ingredients that are dangerous to dogs like pseudoephedrine.

If your dog isn't feeling any better after being on OTC allergy meds for a while, your vet might prescribe an anti-itch medication for dogs like Prednisone or Apoquel. Just be sure to inform your vet if your dog shows any harmful side effects to being on one of these steroids, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or lack of appetite.

What Helps to Relieve Dog Allergies Naturally?

If your pup’s had a negative reaction to prescription allergy medications for dogs, you might want to consider an alternative to Apoquel or Prednisone. Luckily, there are some great natural ways to relieve dog allergies.

If your dog’s allergies are mild, you can give these DIY allergy-relieving tips a shot:

  • Wipe your pup's paws after walks and potty breaks in the yard.
  • Avoid walks in the early morning, when pollen counts are highest.
  • Change your AC filters every two months and vacuum weekly.
  • Regularly wash your pet's bedding and soft toys with hot water.

You can also try an allergy supplement for dogs that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other all-natural ingredients like bee pollen, organic licorice root, colostrum, and kelp. Or a daily dog multi-vitamin that’s full of vitamins A, C, and E for immune system support.

Make sure you discuss any dog supplement with your veterinarian before giving it to your pup. Do your best to look for dog allergy supplements that are made in the USA without any fillers like corn, wheat, or soy. Your dog will be sure to thank you for choosing an allergy chew that tastes great!