Summer Seasonal Allergies..and How to Treat Them!
Summer seasonal allergies in dogs can be frustrating, especially if your dog enjoys being outside! In the summer, pollen is typically the biggest culprit for dogs that are allergic, along with stinging insects and smog. Many people may think that allergies are worse in the springtime; however, summer can be just as difficult for allergy suffering dogs!
Fortunately, summer allergies are treatable once it's discovered exactly what your pet is allergic to! If they already have spring allergies, or maybe even fall allergies, they may be allergic to pollen.
Even though the trees have already released their pollen in the spring, there are many other plants and shrubs that release it. Weeds, ragweed, certain tall grasses, and other summer plants do release pollen. In fact, summer allergies can be more intense since many of the plants releasing pollen are low to the ground where dogs tend to walk and play!
Other summer allergens include stinging bugs such as wasps, mosquitoes, hornets, fire ants, yellow jackets, and more. Dogs can have a very severe reaction to a sting, making it important to monitor them when they're outside! Smog is another culprit*, especially in cities. The pollution from car exhaust and other chemicals in combination with summer winds can trigger a reaction multiple times per day. Summer allergies flare up various times due to the allergens that are prominent in the season. Reactions can range from mild to severe, and should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Summer Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
Often, if you're unaware that your dog has allergies, you may not recognize their symptoms as actual allergic reactions! Symptoms include:
Red and watery eyes
Itchy and irritated skin
Dry or scaly skin
Excessive licking and scratching
Types of Plants That Release Pollen in the Summer
Causes of Summer Allergies in Dogs
Common causes of summer allergies in dogs include:
Coming into contact with summer-specific allergens
An over-reactive immune system to pollen or other summer allergens
Immune system sensitivity causes mild to severe reactions and symptoms
Diagnosing Summer Seasonal Allergies in Dogs
If you think your dog may have summer allergies, it's important to take them to the vet as soon as possible! Once you bring them to the vet, your doctor will look over your pet's symptoms and ask questions that pertain to the start of the allergies, symptoms, and how long they last. A veterinarian may also want information on the types of plants and trees in your neighborhood and if they're experiencing any skin reactions.
Wheezing and a runny nose may require a veterinarian to take a closer look at their nose. If it looks like there may be an infection, the vet may be interested in running some tests for further inspection. On the other hand, if the symptoms occurred after an insect sting, the doctor will check out the sting area. Anaphylaxis will need to be treated immediately!
Once all history and symptoms have been verified, the case may be that they have summer allergies! A skin test may be needed to pinpoint which exact allergen is affecting your pet. However, this is not always done immediately until other treatments are given.
Treating Summer Allergies in Dogs
Treating summer allergies will depend on your pet's symptoms. Such treatments may include:
Reducing exposure - When your veterinarian has all the facts they need about your pet's environment, they'll give you a plan on what your pet should avoid. If pollen is the source of their allergies, this is not easy to avoid, but limiting outdoor time may be suggested. If grasses or weeds irritate their skin, it will be best to prevent them from rolling around or laying in those areas.
Medications - The next step (if changing your pet's environment isn't an easy workaround) is prescribing specific antihistamines or a small dosage of steroids. Your pet's symptoms should decrease after about one week. If these do not seem to do the trick, then you may want to consider allergy shots, such as Cytopoint. Allergy shots are usually limited for pets who suffer from year-round allergies, but they may be suggested if your pet has very severe allergic reactions!
Decontamination - Your veterinarian may also suggest a medicated shampoo or mild cleanser to bathe your pet with at home. These products should help with calming your pet's need to itch and scratch at the hot spots! A topical solution can also be given to put on their coat.
Overall, with summer allergies, a prognosis is good once the allergies are able to be controlled. If your pet is given medication and you do not see any improvement, a revisit to the vet may be needed for more testing. It's also important to watch out for the side effects that come with certain medications, so be sure to ask what you should look for. Summer allergies are fairly common, but once you and your veterinary team find what works best, they'll be feeling great in no time!