The idea that canine allergies are limited to only one season of the year is a myth. Depending on where you live and what your dog is allergic to, your canine companion may suffer during the spring or summer or fall or all year round.
Pollen is a leading cause of environmental allergies
Seasonal allergies — or more accurately, environmental allergies — are the second-most common cause of allergic skin disease in dogs. (The most common cause is flea allergy dermatitis or flea bite hypersensitivity, just in case you were wondering.)
The list of potential environmental allergens is long and includes pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. During spring, tree pollen might be the culprit behind your canine companion’s allergy symptoms. In summer, grass pollen reigns supreme and can contribute to symptoms well into autumn. In fall, weed pollen — especially ragweed, sagebrush and wormwood, depending on where you live — may be the primary cause. And, unfortunately, many dogs are allergic to more than one type of pollen.
As for allergies that may be present all year long including winter months, dogs can be allergic to dust, house dust mites, mold spores and skin cells (dander) that have been shed from another animal. Some dogs may even be allergic to the family cat!
Suspect allergies if you see these signs
The most common allergy symptom noticed by dog owners is itchy skin, which dogs relieve by scratching, licking, chewing, scooting and rubbing — to the point of damaging their skin and causing sores, scabs, hair loss and infection. Itchy ears and recurrent ear infections are also commonly seen in dogs with environmental allergies.
If you notice that your dog is scratching more than normal, or has reddened, smelly and sensitive ears, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will determine if something other than an allergy is causing your dog’s symptoms, evaluate your pet for any secondary bacterial or yeast infection, and can recommend the most appropriate treatment to help manage your dog’s itchy skin. While your veterinarian will likely recommend a medication to help control your dog’s excessive scratching, licking or chewing, they may also suggest feeding a food that’s specifically designed for dogs with sensitive skin, such as Diamond CARE Sensitive Skin Formula for Adult Dogs.
Nutrition supports healthy skin and immune system
Good nutrition may help relieve the itchiness of environmental allergies for some — but not necessarily all — dogs. Diets formulated specifically for dogs with sensitive skin are often made with a limited number (one or two) of sources of protein and an appropriate ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Dog foods that control the quantity and ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids provide the nutrients needed for immune system health while also helping to reduce the effects of the substances responsible for itching. Just be sure to talk with your veterinarian before you switch your dog’s food.
The list of things a dog can be allergic to is daunting. Your veterinarian, however, can help determine the underlying cause of your dog’s symptoms. They can also recommend ways to help your best friend be more comfortable.